PARTNERS

By Craig W. Anderson 

SENATE BILL 1 – the “California Environmental, Public Health and Workers Defense Act of 2019” – is a progressive disaster waiting to happen, according to San Joaquin Farm Bureau President David Strecker because it allows California to hold to baselines of overreaching federal regulations covering environmental, climate and public health sectors. These federal mandates – many promulgated by the Obama administration – have been proven to be bad, expensive and cumbersome.

“California has been deteriorating in every aspect due to the federal baselines that have been set by the previous federal regime,” noted Strecker in a letter to Anthony Rendon, Speaker of the Assembly, voicing Farm Bureau’s rejection of SB 1. “To continue holding to those base- lines will further decimate California with more disastrous res, alternating drought and flooding, drinking water shortages and quality issues, reliance on a foreign substandard food supply and economic extermination.”

Additionally, state agencies will “incur significant unknown costs to comply with SB 1” with more unknown litigious costs being incurred due to the citizen lawsuits. Further, this opens the door for suits against individual farmers that will prove devastating.

What SB 1 amounts to is unfettered rejection of any federal regulation the state doesn’t like and what considerations they’d made for this,” Blodgett said. “Their response was: ‘Oh? We hadn’t given it that much thought. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.’”

Shutting off power sanctioned

About the PSPS program, Karen Norene Mills, CFBF general counsel, said, “We hope is these de-energization events are rare and fulfill the goal to keep people and property safe. is has become a sanctioned tool to prevent damage and fires through-out the state, so we anticipate it being used by the utilities.”

She also said agriculture often has unique concerns and, in some cases, “It may be necessary for farmers and ranchers to consider the use of generators for essential water deliveries, such as for livestock.” With enough notice, farmers could irrigate in advance or “accelerate other activities” so the affected area hit by the shutoff is more protected.

Harvest windows

Crops have different harvest windows, explained SJFB past president Jim Ferrari, a walnut and diversifed grower near Linden, some with a span of 40-45 days, others, like Chandler walnuts, have a 20-day window. “If we were to lose any of those harvest days due to a power shutdown, it would be a disaster,” he said. “California’s inadequate forest management practices helped lead to this situation.”

Ripple ffect

The ripple effect on California’s $50.13 billion agriculture industry could be even worse, considering the negative effect the shutoff plan would have on the multitude of added value industries such as transportation, jobs, equipment, manufacturing, clothing, shoes, fuel, and a myriad other industries associated peripherally with agriculture.

Windy day disaster

A shutoff isn’t necessarily associated with res; PG&E began shutting down power sources to rural areas in 2018 on warm, windy days to reduce the risk of an unmaintained electrical line triggering a wild re. And, before utilities can turn the electricity back on all of their lines must be inspected.

“People would be put out of work,” said Vogel. “And our crops depend on irrigation patterns; if the power is out for three or four days, walnuts would shrivel and some field crops would just die. Days without power would not be good.”

Shutdowns difficult

A general manager of a small water district, who had perhaps the best take on the frustrating situation, said, “These shut-downs are extremely hard. They’re shutting off the power during wild fire season, I get it. But to shut off the power to the one thing that fights the fire – water – I really don’t get that.”