What is in this article?:
- Unsustainable: The problem with Californiaâ€™s green regulations
- Growing chorus of critics
- Conflicts, errors and controversy
- Diesel emissions
- Questioning the air board
- Strict emissions guidelines
- Recycling contamination?
- Riparian buffers
- Infeasible standards
- A heavy cost to agriculture
- The roots of the problem
- Insufficient evaluation of regulations
- Moving forward
- Sensible proposals?
- In December 2010, the California State Board of Food and Agriculture released a report, “California Agricultural Vision: Strategies for Sustainability,” detailing ways the state could improve agricultural policies. Not surprising, it advocated more “green” practices be adopted. But one part of the report wasn’t so predictable - a section criticizing California regulations, including environmental rules, as often “duplicative,” “conflicting,” “uncoordinated,” and “needlessly burdensome.”
Ron Koetsier, a dairyman in Tulare County, Calif., had to shut down his methane digester in 2008 because the local air district passed a rule requiring expensive modifications to the machine’s generators, which produce electricity by burning methane gas produced by cow manure.
The roots of the problem
There is no single explanation as to the source of California’s regulatory problems. But one common complaint is that California’s environmental agencies are organized with too exclusive a focus on a given environmental medium, such as water or air, and that they do not coordinate with each other effectively.
“If you were going to design our regulatory system today, it wouldn’t look much like it looks like now,” Boren said. “We’re a lot more knowledgeable right now about how issues in the environment affect each other. Water and air are all involved, as you know. But in California, a lot of these agencies are siloed.”
That arrangement is a major reason for policies that conflict and duplicate requirements, she said.
“(Environmental agencies and legislators are) putting in place very well-intentioned regulations, but they’re not really thinking about how it relates to the regulations already existing for other (environmental resources) – how they interact, how they might conflict,” she said.
McGavern with Sierra Club California also identified isolation between agencies as a major complaint of his organization.
“The silo-ization in California of environmental agencies has been a big concern of ours, and anyone who spends time (working with the California Environmental Protection Agency) is aware of it,” McGavern said. “You have separation and turf battles and overlapping that doesn’t make sense.”