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JULY 27, 2007 California Farm Bureau Friday Review
Today's Friday Review is an update on California's budget negotiations.  This edition also includes updates on several bills on the subject of renewable energy generation.

The State Budget stalemate continued this week in the Senate as the Republicans continue to demand more cuts in spending and a statutory leash on California’s Attorney General Jerry Brown. On Wednesday, Senate Republican Leader Dick Ackerman (R-Tustin) proposed $842M in additional spending cuts designed to wipe out the budget’s ongoing “structural deficit” but as of this writing the Senate has not reconvened to consider the proposed reductions. The Republicans are also demanding the Legislature stop what they believe is a threat to future infrastructure development.

According to the Senate Republican Caucus, the Attorney General threatened to file lawsuits, and actual litigation against San Bernardino County could derail needed infrastructure projects and new housing projects. Under California’s Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), local jurisdictions are required to disclose, analyze and mitigate for the environmental impacts of proposed projects. Brown is concerned that lead agencies are failing to address green house gas emissions in their Environmental Impact Reports. (For an in-depth look at this issue, see this Sacramento Bee article.) The Republicans feel that if Brown is successful, there will not be a single city or county in California with a general plan that complies with the new CEQA requirements. They also object to using lawsuits in an attempt to create new policy outside the legislative process. The proposed solution is to prevent outside groups, including the Attorney General and special interest groups, from suing under CEQA for failing to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, until the Air Resources Board adopts regulations in the year 2012, in accordance with AB 32. Opponents of the Republican’s CEQA proposal fear that the five-year delay and the potential for subsequent litigation challenging the regulations would have the effect of closing the barn door after the emissions are out.

Governor Schwarzenegger entered the fray on Thursday afternoon by holding a press conference to admonish the Senate to act. The governor said that it is time to pass the budget because projects and purchases are being delayed, including much needed firefighting equipment, and schools cannot prepare for the new school year.
The Senate President Pro Tempore, Don Perata (D-Oakland), has kept the Senate on call this weekend and told its members to stay within an hour of the Capitol. He also announced that the Senate Rules Committee would not book, purchase or reimburse any travel.

AB 1223 (Juan Arambula, D-Fresno), AB 1428 (Cathleen Galgiani, D-Tracy) and SB 463 (Gloria Negrete-McLeod, D-Chino), which were all renewable generation and net metering related bills, will become two-year bills, unless rule waivers are obtained. Although each bill easily passed out of the house of origin, none of the three made it through the required policy committee in the second house by the July 13 deadline. Each of the three bills addressed a different form of renewable generation: AB 1223 – solar; AB 1428 – initially poultry waste; and SB 463 – biogas. Discussions have arisen about the need to better coordinate treatment of the various forms of renewable generation and the net metering aspects. Newly revised SB 451 (Kehoe) is an attempt to partly address the various ways customers and utilities benefit from renewable generation by customers. It would allow net metering programs to continue under their current structure, but also require utilities provide standard tariffs for all electricity produced by the customer at a market priced established by the California Public Utilities Commission. Generation procured by a utility under the tariff would count toward the renewable generation requirements.

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