Agriculture

Governance on the Ground—Evaluating Pesticide Regulation in California

California uses more pesticides than any other U.S. state, primarily because of the large acreage of high value specialty crops. Photo credit: Fotokostic, Shutterstock

In a new study, UCLA and USC researchers find that California state and county officials are falling short in evaluating use of agricultural pesticides.

Editor’s note: a new report from researchers at UCLA and USC provides a systematic review of California’s county-level regulation of pesticides. Read the report, a 4-page summary, and a press release.  It is well known that the law on the ground often looks quite different than the law on the books. California’s pesticide regulatory program …

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Guest Blogger Ken Alex: Working and Natural Lands, From Sources to Sinks

Post #6 in a Series on California Climate Policy by Ken Alex, Senior Policy Advisor to Gov. Jerry Brown

[This is the sixth post in a series expressing my view of why California’s actions on climate change are so important and how they will change the world. The introductory post provides an overview and some general context.] Roughly 80% of California land is protected or agricultural.  That includes deserts, forests, wetlands, foothills, and multiple vegetative types, …

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What Threatens Biodiversity?

Are we too worried about climate change to focus on the other problems we know about?

Yesterday, Nature published a noteworthy comment on the biodiversity crisis, written by researchers at the University of Queensland and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The piece is based on a study of 8,688 species that are classified on the IUCN’s Red List either as threatened (vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered) or near-threatened. The main …

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Mixed results in CA medical marijuana legislation

New state law to regulate medical marijuana makes important environmental progress, still much to be done

California is moving towards marijuana legalization. This is a good and important thing for a whole host of reasons, but one important reason is the environmental impact of unregulated and illegal marijuana cultivation on the environment – something that has been discussed both in the news and here on Legal Planet. Those impacts include diversion …

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Tragedy of the Commons–California Drought-Style

State Farmers Planting New Almond Orchards Despite Critical Water Shortages

Traveling through California’s drought-striken San Joaquin Valley repeatedly over the past year, I’ve been surprised and disheartened to see that Valley farmers continue to convert their agricultural fields to newly-planted almond orchards.  (My anecdotal observations have been confirmed by various recent press accounts.)  This development is a striking, current example of Garrett Hardin’s Tragedy of …

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More on the Governor’s war on lawns

The Executive Order misses some golden opportunities for the Golden State to get a handle on agricultural water use

As you no doubt know by now, on April Fools’ Day Governor Brown issued an executive order relying on his emergency powers to impose new statewide restrictions on water use. As has been widely noted in the media (for example by the L.A. Times and Sacramento Bee) and by our own Jonathan Zasloff, Executive Order …

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Prioritizing Livestock Emissions

How do you solve a problem like manure?

Under AB 32, California’s climate change law, “greenhouse gas” is defined to include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and some fluorinated gases. But the bulk of the state’s efforts to date have focused primarily on the first. CO2 is undeniably the primary offender: It accounts for about three quarters of annual global emissions, and is …

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The Climate-Nutrition Nexus

The  advisory panel on nutrition ruffled some congressional feathers by taking environmental impacts into account.  The panel’s report concludes that “a dietary pattern that is higher in plant-based foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, and lower in animal-based foods is more health promoting and is associated with lesser environmental impact than is …

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The environment and marijuana legalization

In the wake of the successful marijuana legalization efforts in Colorado and Washington state, and the success of a number of legalization initiatives on the ballot in the prior mid-term elections, there is a renewed effort to get a legalization measure on the ballot here in California for the 2016 elections. A prior measure in …

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California Headed for Record Drought: Will Critically-Needed Reforms Follow?

Confronting a Looming Environmental Disaster

The Sacramento Bee’s fine environmental reporter, Matt Weiser, yesterday reported on a looming, major drought facing California and its regional neighbors. The figures aren’t pretty.  A persistent high-pressure front stretching over the Gulf of Alaska and most of the Northern Pacific has diverted the normal fall and winter storm track away from California and other …

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