March 8, 2013
 

California Legislature

  • Jerry Hill chosen to lead environmental committee - - Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) has tapped Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) to fill former senator Michael Rubio's place atop a key environmental committee. Steinberg announced in a statement that he was nominating Hill to chair the Committee on Environmental Quality. It will be an influential post as the Legislature weighs overhauling the California Environmental Quality Act. "[Hill] is well-positioned to appreciate the complexities of this challenge, and well-versed in the false dichotomy that pitches business against the environment," Steinberg said in a statement. "California has led, and will continue to lead the nation in smart, environmentally sustainable economic growth."

  • Bills of interest to the almond industry - - The deadline passed recently for bills to be introduced in the State Legislature. Here is a look at some of the bills of interest to the almond industry.

    • 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.
       

    • Nitrates. AB 145  State Water Resources Control Board drinking water by Assemblyman Henry Perea (D-Fresno). This bill would transfer from the State Department of Public Health to the State Water Resources Control Board the various duties and responsibilities imposed on the department by  the California Safe Drinking Water Act.
       

    • Nitrates. AB 21 -Safe Drinking Water Small Community Emergency Grant Fund by Assemblyman Luis Alejo (D-Salinas) This bill would authorize the department to assess a specified annual charge in lieu of interest on loans for water projects made pursuant to the Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, and deposit that money into the Safe Drinking Water Small Community Emergency Grant Fund, which the bill would create in the State Treasury. The bill would authorize the department to expend the money for grants for specified water projects that serve disadvantaged and severely disadvantaged communities, thereby making an appropriation.
       

    • Fracking. AB 288 by Assemblyman  Marc Levine (D-San Rafael). This bill would define “hydraulic fracturing” and require the operator of a well, at least 30 days prior to any hydraulic fracturing operations, to file with the supervisor or the district deputy a written notice of intention, as specified, to commence hydraulic fracturing.
       

    • Fracking. AB 669 by Assemblyman Mark Stone (D-Santa Cruz). This bill would additionally require the operator prior to drilling operations to submit proof to the supervisor that the applicable regional water quality control board has approved the method and location of wastewater disposal for the well.
       

    • Fracking. State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) has introduced SB 395, a bill to regulate the wastewater produced from fracking. Jackson’s bill would require that any fluids brought up during the fracking process be regulated as a hazardous waste by the Department of Toxic Substances Control, giving it the authority to ensure that the appropriate precautions are taken in how the wastewater is transported and disposed. Feb. 25, 2013
       

    • Fracking. Assemblyman Das Williams (D-Santa Barbara) has introduced AB 982, which would require companies fracking for oil and gas in California to monitor groundwater near their operations. The proposed legislation would require monitoring of groundwater quality both before and after any fracking. Feb. 25, 2013
       

    • Fracking. Two 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.) Feb. 8, 2013
       

    • 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 Senators Fran Pavley (D-Los Angeles) and Michael Rubio (D-Bakersfield) in the Assembly, AB 8 was introduced by  Assemblymembers Henry Perea (D-Fresno) and Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley.) AB 8 was referred to the Assembly Transportation committee.  SB 11 was referred to the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee.
       

    • Pesticides- toxic air contaminant control measures.  AB 304 by Assemblyman Das Williams  (D-Santa Barbara)  would require the written determination regarding control measures for for each pesticide listed as a toxic air contaminant and all findings made by consulting agencies be made available to the public.

Water

  • Reclamation Releases Low 2013 Water Allocation Estimates - - Facing one of the driest combined Januarys and Februarys on record, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Feb. 25 released low 2013 water allocation estimates from the Central Valley Project. Under Reclamation estimates, agricultural water service contractors south of the Delta will receive 25% of contracted supplies, municipal and industrial contractors south of the Delta and those north of the Delta served by Folsom Reservoir will receive 75% of their historic use, while municipal and industrial contractors north of the Delta served by Shasta Reservoir will receive an estimated 100% of their contracted supply. Agricultural water service contractors north of the Delta are allocated 75% of their supply, while Sacramento River and San Joaquin River Exchange Settlement contractors will receive 100% of supply.

  • Nitrate report recommends new fees on farmers - -  In a report released last week, the State Water Resources Control Board outlined 15 actions intended to address the issue of nitrates in drinking water. The state board also stressed the need to establish a new funding source to finance the implementation of its recommendations, saying potential funding sources "include a point-of-sale fee on agricultural commodities, a fee on nitrogen fertilizing materials, or a water use fee." The far-reaching recommendations will be forwarded to the state Legislature, where nine bills have already been introduced dealing with nitrates and fertilizer use. The full report and other related info may be found at: http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/nitrate_project/index.shtml 

Air Quality

  • Workshops to be held March 14–15 on San Joaquin Valley Ag Motor Rules - - The California Air Resources Board has extended its time frame for developing new ag motor rules from one year to two years, and announced new rules will apply, at least initially, only to the San Joaquin Valley. The good news is that San Joaquin Valley growers, by taking advantage of co-funding opportunities through the San Joaquin Valley Air District, the state (including Carl Moyer funding), and USDA-NRCS to buy tractors and other equipment with higher Tier II and Tier III motors, helped the state meet requirements of a 2007 State Implementation Plan to reduce NOx emissions for ozone in the San Joaquin Valley. Workshops will be held March 14 from 1:30 to 3:30 at the SJV Air Pollution Control District Fresno office, with video feed to Modesto and Bakersfield offices; and March 15 from 1:30-3:30 at the ARB/CalEPA offices in Sacramento, with a webinar option. San Joaquin Valley growers should stay tuned as ARB develops a SJV-only ag motor rule. This new round is intended to meet more stringent ozone standards passed in recent years by U.S. EPA. To meet this new NOx standard, ARB and the San Joaquin Valley Air District will develop a 2015 State Implementation Plan over the next two years.  To read more on this issue, please click here.
     

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