Agriculture

7 Reasons California Should Get Tougher on Methane from Dairies

A dairy cow

California lawmakers should rethink the role of dairy digesters in the state’s dairy and livestock mitigation strategy.

Even though California aims to decrease the emissions of methane, dairy operations are rewarded for creating, and capturing, more and more of the planet-warming super pollutant in the form of manure-derived biogas. Today, California lawmakers declined to correct that perverse incentive, but they still have opportunities to rethink the state’s embrace of digesters as its …

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California Courts Foil Westlands Water District’s Grinch-Like Water Grab

Westlands’ Efforts to Permanently Privatize California Water Opposed by Unique Coalition & Rejected by Skeptical Judges

While there’s a great deal that’s dysfunctional and downright wrong about water law and policy in California, occasionally there are positive developments to report.  So it’s most satisfying to end 2023 with some good news regarding water in the Golden State. This is the saga of how the Westlands Water District tried to privatize a …

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Food and Farming Makes the Menu at UN Climate Talks

Guest contributor Antonia Moure Richard of UCLA Law reports that regenerative agriculture was a big focus of COP28, but industrial farming was largely ignored.

At the United Nations climate conference known as COP28, it was easy to come to the realization that we must confront every aspect of the climate crisis, and we must do it right now. That includes transforming our food systems. Agriculture has historically been left out of the conversation at COP. That changed this year …

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Why There is (Still) a Carrot Boycott in Cuyama Valley

A sign that reads Boycott Carrots

Bolthouse Farms and Grimmway Farms are technically no longer plaintiffs in the lawsuit they launched. But their water war wages on.

Don’t expect to see carrots on Thanksgiving menus in the Cuyama Valley, where residents and small farmers have been boycotting Bolthouse Farms and Grimmway Farms over their outsized water use. They’re still not welcome at the table.  Back in September, I wrote about the carrot boycott and the hardball tactics by those big growers that …

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It’s High Time to Ban “Monster Fracking” in California

Fracking consumes enormous amounts of water, pollutes aquifers & is contrary to our climate goals

Recently, the New York Times published an important and disturbing expose’ titled, “‘Monster Fracks’ Are Getting Far Bigger.  And Far Thirstier.”    The Times article focuses on the alarming intersection of three current environmental crises–water supply shortages, groundwater contamination, and excessive greenhouse gas emission levels–that threaten California and other states across the nation. Fracking (the shorthand …

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Livestock Operations Are Responsible for Over Half of California’s Methane Emissions—Why Won’t CARB Regulate Them?

Image of an anaerobic digester on a dairy

CARB will have the authority to regulate methane from livestock operations beginning in January but has not initiated rulemaking

  At a recent California Air Resources Board (CARB) meeting, a staff member responded to a question about why CARB’s program for reducing emissions from transportation fuels incentivized the capture of methane from landfills so much less than the capture of methane from dairies: “Landfills have a different CI [carbon intensity] score because they are …

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Recharge net metering (ReNeM) provides win-win-win for groundwater agency, landowners, & sustainable groundwater management

Nature Water publication showcases the economics of a novel groundwater recharge incentive structure

By Molly Bruce, Luke Sherman, Ellen Bruno, Andrew T. Fisher, & Michael Kiparsky An insidious issue has been growing along the Central Coast and throughout the state of California for decades: groundwater overdraft. In response to this growing threat and 2014 legislation designed to put an end to chronic overdraft, many basins have identified managed …

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Meet  Austin Scott — No, sorry, say goodby to Austin Scott

Or as Groucho put it, “hello, I must be going.”

Since I started reporting on the environmental aspects of the House Speaker race, I might as well continue. After I last wrote on Friday, following Scalise’s surprise withdrawal, another candidate  tossed his hat in the ring, Austin Scott from Georgia. As an aside, I can’t help but wonder: what is the ring, and why is …

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One More Key Groundwater Bill Just Became Law

sprinklers going off

Gov. Newsom signs AB 779, which addresses inequities in California’s complicated groundwater adjudication process.

Earlier this week the San Francisco Chronicle declared that California’s legislative session would close with just a single bill addressing injustices in the state’s water rights system. Now you can add one more to the list. Gov. Newsom signed Assembly Bill 779 into law this week. It’s an important step to reforming the state’s murky—often …

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The Not-So-Good News About Carbon Offsets

Recent studies show the significant limits to some carbon offsets. What’s that mean for tropical forest jurisdictions?

In case you missed it: there’s some good news about Amazon deforestation continuing to plunge. Jason Gray and I spoke recently about why tropical deforestation is down in Brazil, Colombia, and Indonesia.  That’s good news because deforestation of tropical forests is a huge source of greenhouse gas emissions. The World Resources Institute’s Forest Pulse report …

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