June 10, 2013
 

California Legislature 

  • Bills of interest to the almond industry - - May 31, 2013 was the last day for each house to pass bills introduced in that house. Here are some bills of interest to the almond industry that have been approved and await further action.

  • California Assembly approves minimum wage increase - -  The Assembly voted 45-27 on May 30, 2013 to increase the minimum wage in California over the next three years, hiking it from $8 an hour to $9.25. Starting in 2017, AB 10  by Assemblyman Luis Alejo (D-Salinas) would also require the state to increase the minimum wage at a rate equivalent to inflation. The legislation now goes to the state Senate. Previous efforts by Alejo have stalled in the Capitol. Republicans opposed the bill (AB 10), saying it would harm the economy by making it harder for companies to employ new workers. California's minimum wage is among the highest in the country although it hasn't been raised in more than five years.

  • Bills to halt fracking fail to win support - - Attempts to place a moratorium on the controversial oil drilling technique known as fracking failed as the Legislature hit its first bill-passing deadline. Just two fracking bills remain from nearly a dozen introduced.  The major bill on fracking is SB 4  by Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Los Angeles)  which was amended to remove its proposed moratorium. Instead of halting the practice as many environmental groups sought, lawmakers are seeking regulations that would require the disclosure of chemicals used in the process, oversight of wastewater disposal and increased public notification.

  •  NITRATES

  • Nitrates. AB 467  The Freshwater Protection Act by Assemblymember Mark Stone (D-Monterey) would create a reliable, stable funding source to provide long-term, safe drinking water infrastructure, as well as short-term solutions for communities impacted by nitrates. The bill was approved by Assembly on a 75-1 vote and is now in the Senate Environmental Quality Committee. June 10, 2013

  • Nitrates. AB 69 Nitrate at Risk Area Fund by Assemblyman Henry Perea (D-Fresno) This bill would establish the Nitrate at Risk Area Fund, to be administered by the board and, upon appropriation by the Legislature, moneys in the fund would be available for the purposes of developing and implementing sustainable and affordable solutions for disadvantaged communities in specified areas designated by the department, in conjunction with the board. This bill was passed by the Assembly on April 15, 2013 and is now being considered by the Senate Environmental Quality Committee.  May 8, 2013

  • Perea bill to move drinking water funds advances  - - The state Assembly has approved legislation that would move responsibility for safe drinking water away from the California Department of Public Health. AB 145  authored by Assemblymembers Henry T. Perea (D-Fresno) and Anthony Rendon (D-Lynwood) would move the duties to the State Water Resources Control Board.  The bill now goes to the state Senate. The bill is one of many bills that were submitted following a report by UC Davis on nitrate in groundwater in the San Joaquin Valley.  The move is billed as a fresh start for rural communities that have waded through years of Public Health Department red tape to get public funding for healthy drinking water. “Communities throughout California have been demanding access to clean drinking water for the past few years,” said Perea. “We need to create a water governance structure we can hold accountable, so that all Californians have immediate access to one of life’s most basic necessities — water.”

AIR QUALITY

  • Air quality incentive funding - - Legislation has been introduced in the state Assembly and Senate that would continue incentive funding for equipment replacement to meet air quality standards. The program by the state air board has proven to be very popular with farmers looking for assistance in purchasing cleaner burning farm equipment. SB 11 was introduced by Senator Fran Pavley (D-Los Angeles) . The bill was approved by the Senate on a 32-5 vote and sent to the Assembly.

PESTICIDES

  • June public meetings set for new DPR proposal on cloropicrin fumigation - - The California Dept. of Pesticide Regulation has proposed new regulations on the use of Chloropicrin (Pic) to reduce potential worker and bystander exposure that could impact almond growers in the future who fumigate soil at replant with a Pic containing product, such as Telone C35. The new regulations come on the heels of already revised federal EPA application requirements for Pic and other soil fumigants, which appear on labels as of this year. These revised requirements include buffer zone restrictions depending on tarp usage, notification requirements and the requirement that trained applicators be present. DPR has said that additional mitigation measures are warranted for chloropicrin, which is a powerful eye irritant. The agency will hold a series of public meetings throughout the state on its proposed changes. Technical meetings for growers and applicators will be held in Fresno June 18 and Redding June 25. A community meeting is also scheduled in Fresno for the general public. Growers are encouraged to attend to better understand the proposal and provide comment on the importance of soil fumigation to ensuring the long-term health of the orchard. For a list of meeting times and locations log on to http://www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/whs/chloropicrin.htm . Written comments can also be submitted until July 31 by fax to (916) 445-4280, or by e-mail to loconnell@cdpr.ca.gov
     

  • Pesticides- toxic air contaminant control measures.  AB 304 by Assemblyman Das Williams  (D-Santa Barbara)  would require the written determination regarding control measures for each pesticide listed as a toxic air contaminant and all findings made by consulting agencies be made available to the public. This bill was approved by the Assembly on a 78-0 vote and sent to the Senate. June 10, 2013

California Senate

  • Vidak-Perez Senate district runoff battle certain - - The 16th Senate District race is headed to a runoff election July 23, 2013 after the final tally of 139 ballots in Kings County failed to lift Republican farmer Andy Vidak of Hanford back above the 50 percent-plus-one-vote margin needed to win the seat outright.  The secretary of state said the final vote tally was 49.8% for Vidak and 43.9% for Leticia Perez, a Kern County Supervisor, in a field of six candidates. The day after a special election on May 14 with 52 percent of the counted vote, Vidak declared victory in the race for the seat left vacant by the resignation of Michael Rubio.

Water

  • Individual WDRs released by Central Valley water board - - The California Regional Water Quality Control Board, Central Valley Region has released tentative waste discharge requirements (WDRs) and a monitoring and reporting program (MRP) for discharges from irrigated lands within the Central Valley Region for dischargers that are not participating in a third-party group.  The board will consider adoption of the WDRs and MRP in Rancho Cordova on July 25-26, 2013. Further information is available from Adam Laputz at (916) 464-4848 or AWLaputz@waterboards.ca.gov.
     

Congress

  • Senator urges retention of important fumigant - - The Senate returned on June 3, 2013 and will revisit the Farm Bill and a number of proposed amendments.  Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN) introduced a bi-partisan amendment (#1122) to the Senate Farm Bill retaining the food uses for the fumigant sulfuryl fluoride (aka ProFume). Senator Donnelly's amendment was developed in concert with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Natural Resources Defense Council. AHPA has been in contact with both Senator Boxer and Fenstein's offices detailing the impacts of not having SF available to the almond industry and urging their support of the amendment. This information has also been shared with the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works.

Air Quality

  • Ag air quality conference at UC Davis June 27-28 - - An agricultural air quality conference jointly sponsored by UC Davis and the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District will be held June 27-28 at the UC Davis conference center. The conference’s major focus will be on discussing a “risk-based” strategy proposed by the SJVAPCD as an alternative to the current federal/state air quality regulatory framework.  The SJVAPCD is also currently one of only two areas in the nation (South Coast AQMD being the other) classified as “extreme” non-attainment for ozone. Sessions include: * The Scientific Foundation for a Risk-Based Approach to Particulate Controls. * Development of the Risk-Based Approach to Air Quality Policy and Public Health. * - Evolution Towards Low-Risk Pesticides. * Applying the Approach to Policies - Potential Applications & Research Gaps.  *Policy Efficacy of the RB/MP Approach: Opportunities and Constraints. Optional Tours include * Bovine Bubbles. * Anaerobic BioMass Digester. * Olive Oil Center & Tasting Registration information is available at  https://sites.google.com/site/ucdavisaqaq/home 

Archives - - Click here for past issues