Feb. 8, 2013
Almond Board
Almond Board of California Legislative Report: Update on Issues Affecting California's Almond Industry

California Legislature

  • Fracking legislation introduced in Assembly and Senate - - - Legislation has been introduced in the state Assembly and Senate dealing with fracking. The bills seek to define hydraulic fracturing and hydraulic fracturing fluid as well as require new rules and regulations specific to hydraulic fracturing be adopted by Jan. 1, 2015. SB 4 was introduced by Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Los Angeles) and AB 7 was introduced by Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont.)

    sb 4 http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140SB4&search_keywords=

ab 7 http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140AB7&search_keywords=

 

  • Senate holds Feb. 12 hearing on fracking issues - - The Senate Natural Resources and Water/ Environmental Quality committees on Tuesday, Feb. 12 will discuss the regulation of hydraulic fracturing in oil and gas production in California.  The joint hearing is set for 9:30 a.m. in Room 4203 at the State Capitol.

Congress

  • Rep. Denham to chair key Congressional rail group - - An outspoken opponent of the California High-Speed Rail system, Turlock Republican Rep. Jeff Denham has been named chairman of the House Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee. In June 2012 Mr. Denham introduced legislation to block any new federal money from going to the California High-Speed Rail Authority. At the time he said, “The state government is broke. My goal is to make sure this high-speed rail project does not move forward until we have it fully funded.” Future rail legislation must pass through Denham's subcommittee, which can also hold hearings to shed potentially unflattering light on specific projects like California's. “I'm opposed to it, but I'm going to work with the California High-Speed Rail Authority on going forward,” Denham said. “I want to work together with them, though I still have doubts about their funding and ridership numbers.”

CDFA

  • CDFA budget remains stable - - Gov. Brown unveiled his new budget proposal on Jan. 10, 2013. Under the proposal, the Department of Food and Agriculture's ledger would remain fairly stable after the agency weathered more than $33 million in general fund cuts in the past two years. General fund contributions to the CDFA would increase to $61.9 million next year from $60.3 million in the current fiscal year, according to an online budget narrative. The agency would keep all of its roughly 1,975 employees, including the nearly 1,270 in its agricultural plant and animal health, pest prevention and food safety services. The budget also includes an increase of $6.6 million and 59.3 new positions for the state Natural Resource Agency, the Water Resources Control Board and departments of Conservation, Forestry and Fire Protection and Fish and Wildlife.

Air Quality

  • New State Air Quality Plan Focused on PM 2.5 - - The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District has submitted a revised State Implementation Plan for improving air quality in the San Joaquin Valley to meet newer federal standards for PM 2.5 emissions.  The SIP was submitted and approved by the State Air Resources Board in January and will now be submitted to U.S. EPA for approval. The lower particulate matter standard, 2.5 rather than 10, could ultimately lead to further restrictions on emissions from engines, burning and other agricultural sources.

USDA

  • Vilsack to stay on as USDA Secretary - - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced his intention to remain in the administration for President Obama’s second term. Matt Paul, USDA’s communications director, said this week that the president asked Vilsack to stay on and Vilsack accepted. Should Vilsack serve for the full second term until 2017, he will be the first person to lead USDA for two terms since Orville Freeman led the agency under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson in the 1960’s.

Natural Resources

  • Carlos Suarez Assumes Lead of USDA Conservation Agency in California - - Carlos Suarez began his tenure Jan. 14, 2013 as State Conservationist for USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in California. Suarez will assume leadership of the Agency’s 400 employees in 62 offices across California from the state headquarters in Davis. NRCS employees work with Resource Conservation Districts and other partners to provide one-on-one conservation technical and planning assistance to thousands of farmers and ranchers on voluntarily projects that conserve and protect the natural resources on farms, ranches and private non-industrial forests.

  • Jewell nominated to be Interior Secretary - - President Obama has named Sally Jewell, the CEO of outdoor gear and clothing company REI,  to be the next Secretary of the Interior. A native of Great Britain, Jewell has a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Washington and started out in the oil industry. She was a commercial banker before joining the board of directors of Recreational Equipment Incorporated (REI) in 1996. She became CEO of the outdoor gear and clothing company in 2005. She has won numerous environmental awards and serves on the boards of several nonprofit environmental groups including the National Parks Conservation Association.

  • Kern supervisors push for near, far-term resolution of oil-ag conflict despite petroleum industry concerns - -  Kern County supervisors overrode objections by the petroleum industry on Jan. 23, 2013 and ordered staff to begin crafting an interim public process for resolving land-use conflicts between oil producers and local growers. With the same unanimous vote, the Board of Supervisors also launched a review that could allow the county to take over the state's lead role in permitting oil projects in California's most productive petroleum region.  Relations between Kern's two biggest industries turned frosty in about 2010 when oil producers led by Los Angeles-based Occidental Petroleum Corp. began drilling in orchards and agricultural fields near Shafter. Growers complained that Oxy and other mineral rights owners were setting up drilling operations without considering the impact on the farmers.

Water

  • Reduction in Tuolumne, Merced river diversions proposed - - The State Water Resources Control Board in early January  proposed to help fish by reducing average annual diversions on the Tuolumne River by 15 percent and on the Merced River by 13 percent. The idea drew protest  from water suppliers, including the Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts, which argue that the reductions would be especially tough in dry years. A fishing industry leader, on the other hand, said even more water is needed in the rivers. The proposal aims to improve conditions for salmon and other life in the lower rivers as well as the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. WHAT'S NEXT March 5: Deadline for written comments on proposed flows in lower Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers March 20: Workshop on proposed flows at State Water Resources Control Board, Sacramento; time to be announced May 3: Draft final proposal to be released for comment Aug. 6: Possible final vote. ,ore information is available at  www.waterboards.ca.gov/ waterrights/water_issues/programs/bay_delta

     

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