As farmers and ranchers in the U.S. and abroad experience the reality of more extreme and unpredictable weather, soil carbon sequestration is catching national and international attention as a means of climate change mitigation and adaptation. California is poised to lead the way with its soon-to-be-launched Healthy Soils Incentives Program, the nation’s first program to directly incentivize farmers for adopting practices that improve soil health, sequester carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions overall.
According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s (CDFA) most recent proposed Healthy Soils program framework, farmers and ranchers will be eligible to apply for up to $50,000 to defray the costs of adopting healthy soils practices (pictured below) over the course of three years...
…some proposed program details raised significant concerns … CDFA agreed to release the program’s draft request for proposal (RFP) for public comment and subsequent revision before officially launching the program….Below, we outline our recommendations for the proposed program framework.
-Allow on-farm compost to be eligible for compost application…
-Clarify how payments and payment timelines will work for different practices, as well as how that will affect the 3rd year matching fund requirement…
-Simplify the application for applicant feasibility…
-Require soil tests from award recipients, not applicants…
-Reward applicants for conservation plans and matching funds, but not so much that it creates a structural disadvantage to limited-resource and small-scale farmers…
-Shift the demonstration program back to its intended goal of expanding the impact and adoption of Healthy Soils practices…
By CORAL DAVENPORT and ADAM NAGOURNEY MAY 23, 2017 NY Times
LOS ANGELES — The environmental ministers of Canada and Mexico went to San Francisco last month to sign a global pact — drafted largely by California — to lower planet-warming greenhouse pollution. Gov. Jerry Brown flies to China next month to meet with climate leaders there on a campaign to curb global warming. And a battery of state lawyers is preparing to battle any attempt by Washington to weaken California’s automobile pollution emission standards.
As President Trump moves to reverse the Obama administration’s policies on climate change, California is emerging as the nation’s de facto negotiator with the world on the environment. The state is pushing back on everything from White House efforts to roll back pollution rules on tailpipes and smokestacks, to plans to withdraw or weaken the United States’ commitments under the Paris climate change accord.
In the process, California is not only fighting to protect its legacy of sweeping environmental protection, but also holding itself out as a model to other states — and to nations — on how to fight climate change.
“I want to do everything we can to keep America on track, keep the world on track, and lead in all the ways California has,” said Mr. Brown, who has embraced this fight as he enters what is likely to be the final stretch of a 40-year career in California government. “We’re looking to do everything we can to advance our program, regardless of whatever happens in Washington.”…
By Jeannette E. Warnert April 5, 2017 University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources Blog
The new publication, Adapting Forests to Climate Change, can be downloaded free from the UC ANR Catalog. It is the 25th in the Forest Stewardship series, developed to help forest landowners in California learn how to manage their land. It was written by Adrienne Marshall, a doctoral student at the University of Idaho; Susie Kocher, UC Cooperative Extension forestry and natural resources advisor; Amber Kerr, postdoctoral scholar with the UC John Muir Institute of the Environment; and Peter Stine, U.S. Forest Service.
The document provides specific recommendations for care of three common types of forest in California: mixed conifer, oak woodland and coastal redwood forests… see page 12 for specific management recommendations.
A new report from the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program has found that 33 states and Washington D.C. have managed to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions while simultaneously growing their economies….Lead author Devashree Saha said her findings challenge assertions that efforts to fight global warming will necessarily hurt the economy
…Decoupled just means any time states have de-linked their economic growth, measured in terms of real GDP, from carbon emissions. Basically your carbon emissions are decreasing and your GDP is increasing…
…Natural gas prices have been low enough to prompt many power plant operators to make the switch from coal, which is twice as carbon intensive as natural gas.
That’s happening in many parts of the country, and it has been a very important driver in the ability of several states to decouple their emissions from their economic growth.
Our research surprisingly found that nuclear has been playing a very important role in the ability of states to decouple and decarbonize their economy. States like Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia, they have all managed double-digit economic growth and double-digit reduction in CO2 emissions. A lot of that has to do with the role played by nuclear in these states. Georgia sources more than a quarter of its electricity from nuclear, Tennessee almost a third….
1 Scientific understanding of sea-level rise is advancing at a rapid pace. Projections of future sea-level rise, especially under high emissions scenarios, have increased substantially over the last few years, primarily due to new and improved understanding of mass loss from continental ice sheets. These sea-level rise projections will continue to change as scientific understanding increases and as the impacts of local, state, national and global policy choices become manifest. New processes that allow for rapid incorporation of new scientific data and results into policy will enable state and local agencies to proactively prepare.
2 The direction of sea level change is clear.Coastal California is already experiencing the early impacts of a rising sea level, including more extensive coastal flooding during storms, periodic tidal flooding, and increased coastal erosion.
3 The rate of ice loss from the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets is increasing.These ice sheets will soon become the primary contributor to global sea-level rise, overtaking the contributions from ocean thermal expansion and melting mountain glaciers and ice caps. Ice loss from Antarctica, and especially from West Antarctica, causes higher sea-level rise in California than the global average: for example, if the loss of West Antarctic ice were to cause global sea-level to rise by 1 foot, the associated sea-level rise in California would be about 1.25 feet…
4 New scientific evidence has highlighted the potential for extreme sea-level rise. If greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated, key glaciological processes could cross thresholds that lead to rapidly accelerating and effectively irreversible ice loss. Aggressive reductions in greenhouse gas emissions may substantially reduce but do not eliminate the risk to California of extreme sea-level rise from Antarctic ice loss.
5 Probabilities of specific sea-level increases can inform decisions. A probabilistic approach to sea-level rise projections, combined with a clear articulation of the implications of uncertainty and the decision-support needs of affected stakeholders, is the most appropriate approach for use in a policy setting….. These projections may underestimate the likelihood of extreme sea-level rise, particularly under high emissions scenarios, so this report also includes an extreme scenario called the H++ scenario. The probability of this scenario is currently unknown, but its consideration is important, particularly for high-stakes, long-term decisions.
6 Current policy decisions are shaping our coastal future. Before 2050, differences in sea-level rise projections under different emissions scenarios are minor but they diverge significantly past mid-century. After 2050, sea-level rise projections increasingly depend on the trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions. For example, under the extreme H++ scenario rapid ice sheet loss on Antarctica could drive rates of sea-level rise in California above 50mm/year (2 inches/year) by the end of the century, leading to potential sea-level rise exceeding 10 feet. This rate of sea-level rise would be about 30-40 times faster than the sea-level rise experienced over the last century.
7 Waiting for scientific certainty is neither a safe nor prudent option. High confidence in projections of sea-level rise over the next three decades can inform preparedness efforts, adaptation actions and hazard mitigation undertaken today, and prevent much greater losses than will occur if action is not taken. Consideration of high and even extreme sea levels in decisions with implications past 2050 is needed to safeguard the people and resources of coastal California.
Melting ice sheets in Antarctica will wallop California with greater sea-level rise than the world average, threatening the state’s iconic beaches and important infrastructure, according to a report issued yesterday.
The latest science shows that the rate of ice loss from Greenland and Antarctica is increasing. That soon will become the primary contributor to global sea-level rise, overtaking ocean expansion from warming waters and the melting of mountain glaciers and ice caps, said the study, submitted to the California Ocean Protection Council.
That ice loss causes higher sea-level rise in California, it said, due to how the Earth rotates and gravitational pull on the waters. If the ice melt is from West Antarctica, impacts extend further. “For California, there is no worse place for land ice to be lost than from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet,” the study said. “For every foot of global sea-level rise caused by the loss of ice on West Antarctica, sea-level will rise approximately 1.25 feet along the California coast.”
Melting in Antarctica puts the California coast essentially “in the bull’s-eye” of the magnified sea-level rise, said Dan Cayan, director of the Climate Research Division at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego….
….given the widespread and somewhat more significant than anticipated storm impacts across Northern California today, the next storm bearing down on the state bears close watching. An intense atmospheric river brought widespread heavy rain and strong winds to much […]
…Upending a fragile, decades-long balance between human needs and the environment, Congress passed a wide-ranging water bill last weekend that is likely to result in greater pumping of Northern California water to farms and cities in the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California. The bill, co-authored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., passed with bipartisan support in both houses of Congress, despite furious opposition from Feinstein’s longtime Senate ally, fellow Democrat Barbara Boxer….
…If Obama signs the bill, which is no sure thing, it could put the federal government on a collision course with California regulators. The state has strong laws in place to protect endangered species and Delta water quality. The State Water Resources Control Board, which has broad authority over the allocation of water coursing through the Delta, already has begun updating its standards for water quality and restricting the amount of river flows that can get pumped south….
…A White House spokesman said last week that Obama has concerns about the language regarding Delta pumping and some other sections in the bill. But the bill also has popular provisions – such as $170 million to address the crippled drinking-water system in Flint, Mich. – that would be sacrificed if Obama issues a veto.
Along with the pumping provisions, the bill would funnel money into an array of California water projects. Among them: $415 million for watershed restoration and other environmental aid for Lake Tahoe; up to $335 million for two proposed reservoirs in California, including the Sites reservoir north of Sacramento; $880 million for flood-control projects on the American and Sacramento rivers in Sacramento; and $780 million for flood-control projects in West Sacramento….
…Golden State Democrats will be trying to use their supermajorities to extend an imperilled landmark climate program — called cap-and-trade — beyond 2020. Such an extension would almost certainly require two-thirds lawmaker approval in the state assembly and senate. That’s because lawmaking rules in California are different for taxes and fees than for other kinds of bills, which can be passed with simple majority votes.
…Although it’s just a few years old, California operates the world’s second biggest cap-and-trade program (the European Union’s is bigger). Permits that are needed to pollute the atmosphere with greenhouse gases are called allowances.They’re purchased by Californian power plants, oil refineries and factories and traded by financial speculators, raising hundreds of millions of dollars yearly for green projects while capping pollution.
Similar cap-and-trade programs are operated by China, South Korea, New Zealand, a coalition of East Coast states and elsewhere. Instead of operating cap-and-trade programs, British Columbia and some other governments impose taxes on greenhouse gas pollution.
…“An effective cap-and-trade program in California is more important than ever,” said Harvard economics professor Robert Stavins, who directs the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements. “It’s crucial that California increases its reliance on its cap-and-trade system, rather than relying on conventional regulatory approaches, which are much more costly.”
The new rules will make it more difficult for utilities and other polluters to stay under the state’s carbon cap, which could cause demand for dwindling supplies of pollution allowances available each year to spike. That may push Californian cap-and-trade prices to levels never seen anywhere in the world. If that risks causing an economic shock, the governor has the power to suspend cap-and-trade….