Oct. 19, 2012
By Katy Grimes
SACRAMENTO — The monthly meeting of the California Air Resources Board on Thursday was nothing more than a mutual admiration society and big tax-and-spend club. After board members shared esteem for one another and CARB staff, several members of the audience jumped in to grovel before the board, instead of showing fear of the omniscient state agency.
The self-congratulatory tone at the final board meeting before the November California Cap-and-Trade Program Greenhouse Gas Allowance Auction should have been enough to make even the most hardened bureaucrat wince, but instead, the agenda did that.
Earlier in the week, the AB 32 Implementation Group delivered a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown advocating policies to achieve greenhouse gas emission reductions to meet AB 32 goals in a manner that will protect jobs and the economy. They said they were disappointed that CARB has not made very necessary repairs to the Cap and Trade program before the November cap-and-trade auction of allowances, and asked Brown to step in to exercise his authority under AB 32.
Part of the self-congratulatory tone from CARB board members is because they have made it right up to the November Cap and Trade auction without having to address the concerns of the public, employers, taxpayers, manufacturers and other industries, who have begged them to stop the auction, or face more business closures, downsizings, and “leakage” to other states.
The Legislative Analyst’s Office said the greenhouse gas auction of allowances is not necessary to achieve the mandates of AB 32, which is to reduce greenhouse gasses to 1990 levels by 2020. California is already showing greenhouse gas emissions reductions to 1992 levels. So many in business facing the very real prospective of having to buy expensive carbon credits just to keep doing business in the state are asking why the auction has to take place.
Windshield washer fluid, smog check program, and “Clean truck month” were on the agenda Thursday. These issues sound innocuous enough, but not in the hands of the Air Resources Board.
Windshield Washer Fluid regs
In 1990, CARB authorized changes to windshield washer fluid to lower Volatile Organic Compound emissions from the fluid. Initially, they recognized that the changes to the washer fluid would render it useless in freezing temperatures, and allowed the old formula to continue being sold in parts of the state with the colder temperatures.
But over the years since 1990, the Air Resources Board altered the exempted areas, and again lowered the washer-fluid VOC emission requirements four or five times. Ultimately, the washer fluid in the freezing temperature areas was worthless and a safety hazard.
At Thursday’s CARB meeting, after months and months of studies and staff time, CARB had to relax the washer fluid standards so that people living and working in mountainous regions of the state in freezing temperatures could use a washer fluid that actually works and won’t cause crashes.
Smog check program
CARB, together with the Bureau of Automotive Repair, is proposing to change the Smog Check program from the tailpipe emission test, to testing with a car’s onboard computer for emission levels.
Anyone who drives an older car knows the uncomfortable feeling of holding your breath during the tailpipe smog check test, hoping and praying that the car passes.
CARB wants to change the test on cars manufactured in 2000 and newer, to plug in to the car’s computers and read the engine data. They say it will take about three minutes, instead of the 20 minute tailpipe test, and mechanics and technicians can’t cheat to get a passing score for the auto owner.
Cars 1999 and older will still receive the same tailpipe test.
CARB and the Bureau of Automotive Repair also plan to increase the fine for cheating from $2,500 to $5,000 on station owners and technicians. They propose to do this with expensive new computer equipment that stations and mechanics will have to use. And there is an application process with CARB and the automotive repair bureau for the stations which want to be a part of the new program.
The more disturbing part of the presentation was that the CARB staff was very excited about all of the data that can be collected from a car’s onboard computer. It’s not just about the smog.
CARB Board member Daniel Sperling suggested that drivers should be taxed on the smog they produce. “Has there been any thought given to basic economic principles to just charge drivers for their emissions?” Sperling asked. “Economists have talked about this for decades.”
This launched CARB staff members into a discussion with board members about the “incentives” they’ve tried to impose for years to encourage people to get rid of older cars.
“I think that if we’ve had a hard time convincing the public of a carbon tax, (I’m) not sure a tax is a good idea,” said CARB Board member James Balmes.
But he was interrupted by CARB Director Mary Nichols before he could finish his thought. “Hey, congratulations on getting ‘carbon tax’ back in the discussion,” she said.
Balmes pointed out that most of the poor drive older cars and a tax on emissions would unfairly hurt them.
The discussion led to how new technology would allow CARB to “track emissions” from cars through the onboard computer. Nichols said that finding a way to monitor CO2 would be a good project for a grad student.
CARB’s Clean truck month
Nichols then talked about how successful the new diesel regulations have been in forcing truck owners to replace their diesel engines with new ones at a cost of $50,000 to $60,000 each. Truck owner-operators who could not afford to do this have gone out of business.
However, the diesel regulations imposed by CARB were doctored, as I have written about extensively. Even with this information, CARB forged ahead with the program and killed a great many small businesses.
CARB’s enforcement arm
CARB has now “partnered” with law enforcement to ensure compliance. The California Highway Patrol has been ordered to pull truck drivers over to run tests on their engines to see if they are complying with CARB’s diesel regulations.
CARB calls this their “full commitment to compliance.” There was a great deal of talk at the meeting about enforcement and penalties.
Last month, enforcement activities were conducted at CHP inspection stations, border crossings, truck stops, roadside locations, rest stops and port facilities.
Additionally, there was a well-coordinated media campaign orchestrated by CARB. Board members and staff bragged about the 37 news stories done by television news. They even showed clips of a few news stories. These were not public service announcements.
So now we have the California Air Resources Board writing the news, and compliant media reporting it as if it is spontaneous.
The CARB board meeting ended after discussing a resolution to the Cap and Trade program to cap prices at the level of the price containment reserve.
Dorothy Rothrock, with the California Manufacturers and Technology Association, was the only audience member to speak out vehemently against CARB’s Cap and Trade program. “We are disappointed that CARB is moving forward without fixing the serious flaw of auctioning allowances to raise revenue in the cap and trade program,” she said. “CARB’s plan to kill manufacturing jobs is not necessary to achieve AB 32 goals. There is still time before the auction for the board to make a firm commitment to provide free allowances for all the compliance periods between now and 2020.”
The CMTA also explained on its website:
“The Emissions Market Assessment Committee met in September and identified a few more issues that CARB should resolve before the first auction. The EMAC economists said that CARB should define what constitutes ‘resource shuffling’ — at this time electric power utilities and traders throughout the west do not know what is illegal ‘resource shuffling’ and what is normal power trading behavior. Yet CARB’s regulation makes resource shuffling illegal and subject to penalties, also uncertain, starting in January 2013. This isn’t just an academic concern. EMAC said “uncertain liabilities associated with imports to California could discourage, and therefore raise the cost of, power imports into the state.”
Many say that the price containment reserve will probably not protect companies from high prices, especially in the final years of the program. CMTA is concerned that California could have a market failure similar to the energy crisis of the 1970s, when prices skyrocketed and politicians stepped in to stop the market.
EMAC suggests the price containment reserve should “be strengthened and clarified before market operations commence.”
Fire Tax Protest
By Cate Moore
The bills for the SRA Fire Prevention Fee that was rammed through the legislature in 2011 will be arriving soon. The current mailing schedule is:
San Mateo County: November 13-14
Santa Clara County: November 15-16
Santa Cruz County: November 16-20
The fee is being hotly contested throughout the state. The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association has the following instructions if you choose to challenge the fee and claim a refund. Read these instructions carefully before proceeding:
Challenging the Fee and Claiming a Refund
You must pay your bill. PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO THE DUE DATE. You may have fewer than 30 days to pay. If you are late, steep penalties and interest are compounded monthly. Moreover, the fee is a lien on your property, and failure to pay can result in foreclosure.
We at the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association believe this fee is really an illegal tax under Proposition 13. We plan to challenge the constitutionality of this tax in court.
Should we prevail, the court may order refunds. To qualify for a refund you must have paid your bill and filed a “Petition for Redetermination” with the responsible agencies.
For convenience, we have posted the form at http://firetaxprotest.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Petition_for_Redetermination_Fillable.pdf with the grounds for challenging the fee already filled in. Page 2 contains instructions for completing the form.
When you pay your fee, we recommend that you write “under protest” on the notation line of your check. Also, make a copy of the check so that you can enclose it with your Petition for Redetermination form, as proof of payment.
Although only one address appears at the bottom of the form, state law actually requires that you submit the form to three different addresses. You must submit it WITHIN 30 DAYS OF THE DATE OF YOUR BILL to the three addresses below:
Fire Prevention Petitions
P.O. Box 2254
Suisun City, CA 94585
Board of Forestry and Fire Protection
P.O. Box 944246
Sacramento, CA 94244
Board of Equalization
P.O. Box 942879
Sacramento, CA 94279
2012 CALIFORNIA LEGISLATION RECAP
Compiled by Cate Moore
The California Legislature has closed for the 2012 session. The final results are listed below.
It was by turns dreary, terrifying, stupefying, but seldom elating watching these bills as they made their way through the Legislature. California has some very quirky rules regarding legislation, the most unpredictable of which is the “gut and amend” procedure. This rule can turn a staid bill that is not progressing into a roller coaster ride when some interest brings a legislator’s attention to something they deem important and the next thing you know, nearly the entire text of the bill has been rewritten and rammed through before anyone has a chance to digest what it now says.
So, where did our local legislators, Assemblyman Bill Monning and Senator Joe Simitan stand on these bills? We viewed the bills listed below as a mixed bag, but our local legislators voted in favor of every one of them, if it made it to the floor or their committees. We appreciate their support for the bills that help us stay viable and we need to build a better case for the bills that hurt us. Numbers matter, so we thank everyone who sent letters and made phone calls.
CCFA supported this Forestry-friendly legislation:
Passed by Governor Brown:
AB 1492: Timber Reforms packaging addressing several aspects of timber management, including liability, THP duration and renewability rules, lumber tax to finance THP reviews. CCFA views this bill’s value as primarily buying some breathing room as we address the real problems in forest management in California.
SB 1541: Extends the THP exemption for fuel load reduction projects. This was non-controversial from the start. Everyone agrees the program works and it got quietly extended.
Failed to advance out of the Legislature:
AB 1506: Repeal the SRA fire prevention fees
AB 1635: Extends the exemption for requiring a full THP for thinning land for fire safety
AB 2168: Formalizes the pre-harvest inspection invitation and coordination procedures for THP’s to ensure all needed reviewers are present at a PHI at the same time.
AB 2170: Requires the Board of Forestry provide an appeal procedure in the event CDF cancels a previously approved NTMP.
AB 2474: Redefines the parameters of the SRA fire prevention fee to incorporate local fire districts and local fire histories into the formula. requires breakdown report of fire prevention and response in urban vs. rural areas.
CCFA opposed this Forestry-hostile legislation:
Passed by Governor Brown:
AB 1961: Provides a mechanism for expedited approval of small coho habitat restoration projects. CCFA’s main objection is the excessive amount of paperwork needed to set up a restoration project. We doubt any small landowners will want to put themselves through it, so the idea will prove ultimately ineffective.
SB 1221: Mammals: prohibits use of dogs to pursue bears and bobcats. CCFA still thinks this is a very silly and unnecessary bill, but its worst problems have been addressed. The following statement was added which addresses our main concerns about livestock and crop damage caused by the protected species.
“The bill would also authorize the pursuit of bears or bobcats by dogs that are guarding or protecting livestock or crops on property owned, leased, or rented by the owner of the dogs, if the dogs are maintained with, and remain in reasonable proximity to, the livestock or crops being guarded or protected.”
It also, finally, mentions hunting specifically. We still think there could be problems facing foresters and loggers who take their dogs into the woods with them for protection as they are not yet exempted.
We also feel it is actually healthy for bears and bobcats to be afraid of people. If they fear us, they will avoid us, and the chances of an unfortunate encounter go down significantly. But first, we need to give them a constant reminder of why they should fear us, and hunting provides that reminder.
Failed to advance out of the Legislature:
AB 2179: Fish and game: enforcement and penalties
AB 2424: Gives equal consideration to all aspects of “public interest” in evaluation forest management plans on private land
SB 455: Forestry: timberlands: conversion mitigation.
Bills of interest to CCFA:
Passed by Governor Brown:
AB 1532: creates and defines a Greenhouse Gas Reduction Account within the Air Pollution Control Fund. CCFA was tracking this primarily to keep tabs on CARB. It’s quite obvious the State thinks they are sitting on a gold mine. Since pretty much every other government entity who contemplated using Cap and Trade has since bailed out on the idea, we expect they are in for a rude shock.
SB 965: State Water Resources Control Board and California regional water quality control boards: ex parte communications. CCFA did not take a stance on this bill, but we find it interesting that there is a very wide array of business and local government groups supporting it and the only opposition is found in environmental organizations.
SB 1148: establishes rules for the creation of wetland mitigation banks. This primarily establishes a checklist of requirements for entering property into a wetlands mitigation bank. At the moment, we do not believe it is a threat to forest land.
Failed to advance out of the Legislature:
AB 2063: Ex parte communications, Assembly version.
AB 2404: Creates and defines a Local Emission Reduction Fund within the State Treasury, seeks to ensure use of the funds include smaller local greenhouse gas emission reduction projects.
CALIFORNIA AIR RESOURCES BOARD
The Press Banner reports that the rules for outdoor burning were made more strict due to changes approved by the Monterey Bay Unified Air Pollution Control District board of directors.
The new rules — officially Rule 438 — will affect all homes within the district’s jurisdiction in Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito counties. Provisions of the rule throughout the district include:
- Those lighting backyard waste fires must obtain a district-issued smoke management permit. The permits will be free of charge for the immediate future and only available through the district and its website.
- Fires must also be at least 100 feet from any structure, although residents may obtain a waiver if the site is deemed safe by an inspector.
- Outdoor waste fires are also banned on parcels smaller than a half-acre, except for areas not served by, or inaccessible to, waste pickup services and those parcels that have passed an in-person inspection. The burn season remains Dec. 1 through April 30. Since the San Lorenzo Valley has been designated a Smoke Sensitive Area (SSA) in Rule 438, there valley-specific rules are:
- A ban on all outdoor fires on parcels smaller than one acre, though exceptions are available for properties not served by, or inaccessible to, waste pickup services.
- The area within the SSA will be divided into five designated districts with no more than four outdoor burn permits issued per day, per district. The districts include Felton, Ben Lomond, Brookdale, Boulder Creek, and the Zayante areas. Bonny Doon is not included in the SSA.
For information: www.mbuapcd.org or 647-9411.
The Farm Bureau reports the Air Resources Board is beginning the process to develop new regulations for tractors and other off-road agricultural equipment. Logging equipment like yarders will be in this category.
If the workshops for on-road regulations are any indication, the whole idea of taking in public input will be largely ignored
and these sessions will be tutorials designed to indoctrinate the equipment owners/users into the newly imposed bureaucracy.
The first workshops have already taken place. The workshops will continue through the winter and into the spring. CCFA will monitor the situation and hopefully attend at least one of the upcoming workshops.
Further information about developing the new rule may be found at www.arb.ca.gov/ag/agtractor/agtractor.htm.
CENTRAL COAST REGIONAL WATER QUALITY CONTROL BOARD
The July meeting of the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board produced no definitive answer to the level of monitoring that would be required for post-harvest data collection for their Conditional Waiver of Waste Discharge Requirements.
The situation as it stands is:
Water Board staff is to:
- Meet with RPFs regarding selection of photo-monitoring points.
- Conditionally approve plans prior to CalFIRE’s approval
- Attend several pre-harvest inspections per year
- Provide an update for the February 2013 meeting covering:
- review of pre and post-harvest inspection results
- evaluate a methodology to reduce monitoring
- evaluate winter operations with respect to higher tiers
The February 2013 meeting will be held in Salinas.
1491—THE YEAR BEFORE COLUMBUS DISCOVERED AMERICA
By Eric Moore
We often hear members of the environmental industry mouthing off about restoring the land to what it was like “before the white man” and using such descriptions as “teeming with game” and “primordial forest.” This is often used as a justification for more regulations on landowners. So what was this pristine world like? The answer is not what they would like you to think.
To replicate the conditions found by the first white men in California, you would need to enter the area at the end of an ice age, burn everything, every chance you got, while establishing a semi-agricultural society. Do this for 1200 years and then exterminate 90% of the population. One hundred years later, you would come close to what the “first white men” found.
The book “1491”, yes, the year before Columbus arrived in the New World, clearly details this in an easy to read manner. The book is not as big as it appears; the last third of the book is actually extensive documentation to back up what the author has written.
This book is a “must read” for any forest landowner who wishes to rebut the myths that are be foisted upon us to justify new regulations.
I am also looking forward to trying some of the techniques described in it in my own garden.
“1491” by Charles C. Mann
Published by Alfred A. Knopf 2011
COMING SOON TO YOUR FOREST
Here Are a Few Excerpts From NMFS Plan for Santa Cruz County.
Expect Attacks on Water Rights and Your Roads
By Eric Moore
220.127.116.11. Action Step: Provide incentives to water rights holders willing to convert some or all of their water right to in-stream use via petition change of use and §1707.
18.104.22.168. Action Step: Support SWRCB in regulating the use of streamside wells and groundwater.
22.214.171.124. Action Step: Request that SWRCB review and/or modify water use based on the needs of coho salmon and authorized diverters (CDFG 2004).
19.1. Objective: Address the present or threatened destruction, modification or curtailment of the species habitat or range
19.1.1. Recovery Action: Prevent impairment to floodplain connectivity (impaired quality & extent)
126.96.36.199. Action Step: Timber harvest planning should evaluate and avoid or minimize adverse impacts to off-channel habitats, floodplains, ponds, and oxbows.
19.1.2. Recovery Action: Prevent impairment to habitat complexity
188.8.131.52. Action Step: Timber management should be designed to allow trees in riparian areas to age, die, and naturally recruit into the stream.
19.1.3. Recovery Action: Prevent impairment to in-stream substrate/food productivity (impaired gravel quality and quantity)
184.108.40.206. Action Step: Protect headwater channels with larger buffers to minimize sediment delivery downstream.
220.127.116.11. Action Step: Encourage tree retention on the axis of headwall swales. Any deviations should be reviewed and receive written approval by a licensed engineering geologist.
18.104.22.168. Action Step: For areas with high or very high erosion hazard, extend the monitoring period and upgrade road maintenance for timber operations.
19.1.4. Recovery Action: Prevent adverse alterations to riparian species composition and structure
22.214.171.124. Action Step: Manage riparian areas for their site potential composition and structure.
826 SAN LORENZO RIVER—SEPTEMBER 2012
126.96.36.199. Action Step: Encourage wider riparian buffer zones in areas where stream temperatures or riparian canopy are found limiting.
19.1.5. Recovery Action: Prevent increased landscape disturbance.
188.8.131.52. Action Step: Encourage low impact timber harvest techniques such as full-suspension cable yarding (to improve canopy cover; reduce sediment input, etc).
19.1.6. Recovery Action: Prevent alterations to sediment transport (road condition/density, etc.)
184.108.40.206. Action Step: All roads, landings, and skid trails associated with timber operations should, to the maximum extent practicable, by hydrologically disconnected to prevent sediment runoff and delivery to streams.
220.127.116.11. Action Step: Avoid road construction in riparian zones
18.104.22.168. Action Step: All harvest plans should identify problematic unused legacy roads or landings with WLPZ’s and ensure these areas are hydrologically disconnected and re-vegetated with native species where practicable following completion of harvest activities.
19.2. Objective: Address the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms
19.2.1. Recovery Action: Prevent impairment to water quality (impaired instream temperature)
22.214.171.124. Action Step: Increase buffer widths on Class II streams.
19.2.2. Recovery Action: Prevent increased landscape disturbance
126.96.36.199. Action Step: Establish greater oversight and post-harvest monitoring by the permitting agency for operations within Core, Phase I and Phase II CCC coho salmon areas.
188.8.131.52. Action Step: Forest landowners should consider pooling resources for a watershed-wide HCP or GCP that could provide for incidental take authorization and promote survival and recovery of coho salmon
184.108.40.206. Action Step: Until no-take rules are developed or the State has a secured HCP or GCP, assign NMFS staff to conduct THP reviews and provide no-take recommendations by using revised “Guidelines for NMFS staff when Reviewing Timber Operations: Avoiding Take and Harm of Salmon and Steelhead” (NMFS draft, 2004) or “Short Term HCP Guidelines” (NMFS 1999).
220.127.116.11. Action Step: Encourage timber landowners to implement restoration projects as part of their ongoing timber management practices in Core area stream reaches where large woody material is deficient.
18.104.22.168. Action Step: Erosion control measures and road maintenance should be maintained during the entire period between re-entries.
22.214.171.124. Action Step: Review “fire-safe” exemptions to prevent illegal conversions, riparian corridor impacts and other watershed impacts.
23.1.1. Recovery Action: Prevent impairment to stream hydrology (impaired water flow)
126.96.36.199. Action Step: Assess and redesign transportation network to minimize road density and maximize transportation efficiency.
830 SAN LORENZO RIVER—SEPTEMBER 2012
23.1.2. Recovery Action: Prevent impairment to watershed hydrology
188.8.131.52. Action Step: Size culverts to accommodate flashy, debris-laden flows and maintain trash racks to prevent culvert plugging and subsequent road failure.
184.108.40.206. Action Step: Develop a private road database using standardized methods. The methods should document all road features, apply erosion rates, and compile information into a GIS database.
220.127.116.11. Action Step: Evaluate stream crossings for their potential to impair natural geomorphic processes. Replace or retrofit crossings to achieve more natural conditions that meet sediment transport goals.
18.104.22.168. Action Step: Install and maintain adequate energy dissipaters for culverts and other drainage pipe outlets where needed.
22.214.171.124. Action Step: Install sediment traps for pretreatment, and a modified culvert system that can act as an efficient detention system.
126.96.36.199. Action Step: Encourage all permanent and year-round access roads beyond the THP parcel be surfaced after harvest completion with base rock and road gravel, asphalt, or chipseal, as appropriate.
188.8.131.52. Action Step: Reduce road densities by 10 percent over the next 20 years, prioritizing high risk areas in historical habitats or Core CCC Coho salmon watersheds.
184.108.40.206. Action Step: Limit winter use of unsurfaced roads and recreational trails to decrease fine sediment loads.
220.127.116.11. Action Step: Licensed engineering geologists should review and approve grading on inner gorge slopes.
18.104.22.168. Action Step: CDFG, SWRCB, RWQCB, CalFire, Caltrans, and other agencies and landowners, in cooperation with NMFS, should evaluate the rate and volume of water drafting for dust control in streams or tributaries and where appropriate, minimize water withdrawals that could impact coho salmon.
22.214.171.124. Action Step: Prohibit new or increased summer diversions.
We take this opportunity to thank all of our renewing members and those who donated generously to the legal fund. The legal fund is not used for general expenses but is saved in case we have to take an issue to court to uphold our members’ private property rights and the right to use our lands as we see fit, while abiding by reasonable laws to protect forests and the wildlife living therein.
The Board of Directors extends Christmas Greetings to all members of Central Coast Forest Association. We continue to keep abreast of forestry issues so you will know what is happening in State and Federal governments related to your forests and
your property rights.
While CCFA has had a website for many years, technology has advanced to the point where we needed improvement in order to keep the public informed. By the time our next newsletter comes out, we should have our new site up and running. The address will be the same: www.ccfassociation.org.
We have engaged Equity Marketing Solutions in Aptos, CA to set up our site, after which we will be able to update it ourselves. In this manner, we can keep you up-to-date on all sorts of educational articles, the newsletter, and late-breaking news. Look us up soon.
It is with considerable sadness that CCFA informs you of the passing of Steve Staub, RPF #1911. Steve fought a courageous and difficult battle with Mesothelioma. Steve was a forester for Big Creek Lumber Company for 20 years before becoming an independent consulting forester in the Santa Cruz Mountains area.
Steve had a tremendous reputation, both within the forestry community and elsewhere. He was one of the brightest and most ethical people we have had the pleasure of knowing.