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September 19, 2016

Gov. Brown signs SB 1383 into law in Long Beach joined by (back row) Asm. Burke, Sen. Lara, Asm. Eggman, Sen. Hall and others (Photo by: Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times).

Gov. Brown signs SB 1383 into law in Long Beach joined by (back row) Asm. Burke, Sen. Lara, Asm. Eggman, Sen. Hall and others (Photo by: Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times).

Gov. Brown Signs Bill Limiting CARB’s Authority to Regulate Dairy & Livestock Manure Methane Emissions

On September 19, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the Super Pollutant Reduction Act, SB 1383, by Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens). Ag Council was engaged in and helped seek passage of SB 1383. The methane portion of the bill creates parameters around the Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (SLCP) strategy at the California Air Resources Board (CARB) as it relates to the regulation of manure methane from dairies and livestock and gives more certainty to dairy farming families in the state. SLCPs are pollutants that trap heat at many times the level of carbon dioxide, but also tend to have a shorter lifetime in the atmosphere, ranging from a few days or weeks to about 10 years.

Under the existing SLCP strategy, CARB is moving forward with extreme and unachievable regulations to restrict manure methane emissions from dairies and livestock. Instead of that untenable path, SB 1383 gives direction to CARB, creates conditions that must be met before dairy and livestock methane emissions will be regulated in California, places parameters around the regulatory process at CARB and requires consultation with the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Further, SB 1383 requires CARB to limit methane emissions from dairy and livestock manure management operations to 40 percent below 2013 levels by 2030, rather than the unattainable 75 percent proposed by CARB, which would have set-up dairies to fail.

The bill is not a panacea for regulations, but is it a more realistic regulatory pathway for dairy farming families. With dairy prices set by the state and no ability to pass along costs, the measure is needed to help keep dairies here in California.

Broadly, SB 1383 directs CARB to implement regulations to reduce emissions of SLCPs by requiring a 50 percent reduction in black carbon (such as diesel), a 40 percent reduction hydrofluorocarbon (f-gases), and a 40 percent reduction in methane from 2013 levels by 2030.

At the signing ceremony, Governor Brown said, “Cutting black carbon and other super pollutants is the critical next step in our program to combat climate change. This bill curbs these dangerous pollutants and thereby protects public health and slows climate change.”

SB 1383 is crucial in light of the recent signing of SB 32 into law, which requires CARB to reduce statewide emissions of greenhouse gases to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. SB 32 does not extend the existing cap and trade program, and the language in SB 32 is very concerning for the dairy industry because it grants unconstrained authority to CARB to reduce methane as a greenhouse gas with no boundaries around the regulation. Under SB 32 alone, it is likely CARB would pursue a 75 percent dairy methane reduction goal by 2030, as currently proposed in the SLCP strategy awaiting approval at CARB.

Given this, Ag Council and others worked with Senator Lara to create provisions in SB 1383 to set parameters around the methane regulations being developed by CARB for dairy and livestock operations. It is unprecedented to have such provisions placed into statute for the dairy sector in order to provide more certainty to dairy farming families going forward. The bill is certainly not perfect. However, SB 1383 requires CARB to analyze the full implications of the regulation prior to adopting it. Additionally, if the regulation is not technologically or economically feasible, CARB has the authority to reduce the 40 percent methane reduction goal to something more realistic.

The Legislature approved SB 1383 on the last day of the legislative session, August 31. Fifty million dollars in dairy and livestock manure management funding from the greenhouse gas reduction fund was contingent upon passage of SB 1383, and the funding now becomes available for projects to reduce methane emissions from dairy and livestock operations.

Ag Council thanks Senator Lara for working with the agricultural community on SB 1383 and appreciates Governor Brown for signing it into law today. A special thank you to Assemblywoman Susan Eggman (D-Stockton) for managing the bill on the Assembly floor during the last day of the legislative session.

Governor Brown’s statement is available HERE.