Time to Take Action
Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.

 AUGUST 11, 2006 California Farm Bureau Friday Report

SB 419 (Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto) would create a “California only” registration and compliance program for rail tank cars used to carry essential materials into California. This bill would impose additional requirements on tank cars that are not required in all the other states and would create a difficult and costly situation for the rail industry, private tank car owners, shippers and those who depend on the materials, fuels and chemicals shipped by rail tank cars into the state. The rail industry does not have an adequate number of tank cars that meet the proposed regulatory standard, which would result in the shortage of raw material, fuel, gases and chemicals used for crop production and protection, drinking water sterilization, sewage treatment, the manufacture of pharmaceuticals and electronic equipment in California.

If implemented, SB 419 would force shippers to use alternative modes of transportation, which would mean thousands of additional trucks on the highways. While we support the author’s goal of increased rail safety, this measure will most likely be pre-empted by federal statutes governing rail tank cars. Farm Bureau is working with a large business coalition of over 60 businesses and consumers in opposition to this bill. SB 419 is currently on the Assembly Appropriations suspense file.

FARM TEAM ALERT: Please contact the members of the Assembly Appropriations committee to express your opposition to SB 419. Click here: Legislative Action Center for a sample letter.

The Assembly Appropriations Committee took up SB 1578 (Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach) this week. This bill would ban the tethering of dogs for more than three hours, which would cause difficulty for farmers and ranchers using working dogs as part of their operations. CFBF is opposed to this bill unless amendments are taken that would allow working dogs to be tethered. Despite opposition, the bill passed out of committee on a 12-4 party line vote and now moves to the Assembly floor.

This week saw a couple of items of good news for Northern California water right owners whose water rights are enforced by watermasters appointed by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR). These water right holders pay assessments on their property tax bills that pay for this program.

Over the past three years, the Department of Water Resources has attempted to raise these tax bill assessments to levels that are not economically feasible for the farmers, ranchers, other landowners and government agencies that pay them. A coordinated effort by Farm Bureau, local and state elected officials, and the administration, has prevented most of these increases. As a result, taxpayers in nine Northern California counties have been spared a cumulative total of $3.6 million in new taxes over a three-year period.

California Farm Bureau lobbied for increased state funding for the Department of Water Resources to prevent assessment increases that the Department was planning for this year of about $1.4 million. Significant funds were included in the state budget, and this week the Department confirmed that it would not be increasing the watermaster tax bill assessments this year.

As a result of these threatened increases many water right holders have been investigating whether a more cost-effective local agency can serve as the watermaster instead of the Department of Water Resources. To this end, Farm Bureau is sponsoring SB 775 (Dave Cox, R-Fair Oaks). This bill will clarify procedures for replacing the DWR with a more cost-effective local alternative. SB 775 passed the Assembly Appropriations Committee unanimously this week and now moves to the Assembly Floor for a vote. This week’s success in the Appropriations Committee moves the bill a large step closer to becoming law.

The Senate Appropriations Committee sent the Global Warming Acts Solution of 2006 to the suspense calendar due to its state costs. Rest assured, AB 32 (Fabian Nunez, D- Los Angeles; Fran Pavley, D- Agoura Hills) will get to the Governor’s desk as he has clearly indicated he wants to sign a greenhouse gas reduction bill. Whether what arrives on his desk will be in a form he is able to sign remains to be seen. California Farm Bureau Federation and other industry groups are continuing to meet with the Administration and Legislators to express our concerns about the impact AB 32 could have to our economy.

While the proposed legislation is incredibly far reaching, the immediate impact that would be felt would be increased fuel and electricity costs. These two sectors, among others, would have to reduce their air emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020. However, an important difference is there will 14 million more people in 2020 than in 1990. Fuel producers and refiners estimate they would have to eliminate 17 percent of petroleum supplies from the California market to get back to 1990 emission levels which is the equivalent of shutting down three average-sized California refineries. CFBF has major concerns that AB
32 does not recognize the state’s ongoing continuous challenge to meet its current energy and fuel demands while already being one of the top most energy efficient per capita states in the nation.

CFBF is supportive of voluntary efforts to reduce GHG and exploring a national effort, but does not support a California-only Kyoto Protocol. CFBF is opposed.

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