Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources Policy Committee Recap
The CSAC Agriculture, Environment, and Natural Resources Policy Committee met on November 29 at the 122nd Annual Meeting with Supervisor Diane Dillon, Napa County, presiding as chair. The meeting agenda and attachments are available here.
Platform updates approved. The committee reviewed and approved updates to the portions of the California County Platform under the purview of the AENR committee. The CSAC Board of Directors will take action on the platform updates in 2017.
Cannabis cultivation information. The California Department of Food and Agriculture presented information about cannabis cultivation and industrial hemp (PowerPoint available here). Regulations are in development, and will address definitions, applications, licensure, track and trace provisions, inspection, and enforcement. There are many different types of cultivation licenses, covering outdoor, indoor, and mixed locations, and cottage-sized cultivation all the way through very large cultivators. A programmatic environmental impact report is also under development, and will cover a host of issues from aesthetics to utility impacts. State agencies are collaborating on the work, and also hope to collaborate with counties and cities on local licensing and impacts.
Following the state agency presentation, Yolo County presented their perspective on cannabis cultivation (PowerPoint available here). Agriculture Commissioner John Young shared Yolo County’s experience and highlighted some opportunities and challenges associated with regulating an industry that has operated outside government regulations. The presentation included many interesting points of consideration, as well as cost structures and fee revenue information.
Sustainable Groundwater Management Act information. David Gutierrez of the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) presented a progress report (PowerPoint available here) on the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). The presentation included a helpful introduction to the Act and what the local responsibilities are; of particular interest to counties, Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) must be formed by June 30, 2017 and Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) must be completed by January 31, 2020 for critically overdrafted basins or January 31, 2022 for all other high and medium priority basins. DWR reports that their work is so far progressing on the expected timeline: basin prioritization, regulations for modifying basin boundaries, identification of critically overdrafted basins, and regulations for groundwater sustainability plan and alternatives are all complete. Additional work is in progress. DWR highlighted the support and assistance available throughout the process.
Federal update. CSAC federal lobbyists presented a brief update on federal issues. Given the recent election, there is a great deal of uncertainty regarding legislation and regulations at the federal level. PILT and Secure Rural Schools will continue to be high priorities in the AENR arena.
2017 Priorities. CSAC staff presented an update on 2017 priorities. While the priorities are awaiting Board approval, staff highlighted cannabis, water resources, forest health and land management, climate change, and resource recovery and waste management as state priorities for the coming year. Federal priorities will include PILT, Secure Rural Schools, water resources, tree mortality, wildfire funding reform, PACE, and cannabis.