A strike against global warming or a Big Ag giveaway? [Los Angeles Times]
… The Biden administration is so impressed by the kinds of numbers posted by pilot projects such as California’s $21.8-million Healthy Soils Program that it is angling to replicate them on a much grander scale, creating a potentially billion-dollar “carbon bank” that would make payments available not just to modest companies like River Garden, but also to the nation’s industrial farming giants. The uneven evidence supporting the climate promises of carbon bank proponents, who include Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and top environmental advisors in the Biden administration, is raising red flags among some climate economists and other sustainability experts. They worry that what the administration is pitching as a bold step to confront warming could turn into a giveaway to Big Ag.
Will Valley air district actually enforce new restrictions on agricultural burning? [Fresno Bee]
While California air quality officials recently set a deadline to phase out nearly all agricultural burning in the San Joaquin Valley by 2025, it doesn’t necessarily mean preventable smoke will stop choking rural communities soon. … Clean-air advocates are skeptical that the district’s plan and enforcement efforts will reduce smoke and protect public health in an immediate or meaningful way. … Public trust in the Valley air district appeared weak at the CARB hearing on Feb. 25.
California thinks it can stop COVID by flooding poor areas with vaccine. Will it work? [Los Angeles Times]
Months into a vaccine rollout that has been stymied by shortages and marred by persistent inequities, California is now going all in on a new strategy: flooding those communities hardest hit by COVID-19 with doses. Officials say they hope the radical shift unveiled this week will not only slow the spread of the disease and tackle glaring inequities in who is receiving vaccines, but also speed up reopening of the economy by inoculating essential workers who are putting themselves at greater risk.
Supervisors to consider funding two mobile units to vaccinate farm workers [Bakersfield Californian]
Kern County could soon launch a $2.9 million endeavor to vaccinate agriculture workers with two mobile clinics. At a meeting Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors will consider allocating millions in federal funds to the outreach effort, which would be operated by Kern Medical. … As part of the proposed agreement, Kern Medical will partner with the United Farm Workers, California Farmworker Foundation, Cesar Chavez Foundation, and the Kern County Farm Bureau to develop a strategy to deploy the mobile units effectively.
Persistent dryness in the West is exacerbating region’s ‘megadrought’ [USA Today]
Much of the western U.S. continues to endure a long-term drought, one that threatens the region’s water supplies and agriculture and could worsen wildfires this year. In fact, some scientists are calling the dryness in the West a “megadrought,” defined as an intense drought that lasts for decades or longer. … In California, about 90% of the state is in a drought, a worrisome statistic that comes a year after its most destructive wildfire season on record.
Fighting for the forest in Mendocino County: Local group attempts to turn state-run Jackson Forest into a redwood preserve [Ukiah Daily Journal]
… CalFire has recently announced there will be six new timber harvest plans on more than 5,000 acres in JDSF over the next seven years. Revenue from these harvests fund the management of the state forests. There have already been 12 THPs in the last four years, and the next six would constitute the largest harvests, by far. But opponents contend the revenue also funds Cal Fire’s other activities — such as fighting wildfires like the Oak Fire, a 1,100-acre wildfire that came dangerously close to Willits and JDSF in September 2020 — and that money isn’t necessarily set aside for the sustainable, ecological management of the forest, much less the management of its public amenities.
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