State of Emergency Declared Due to Winter Storms; Flooding Likely in Parts of State
On Wednesday, Governor Gavin Newsom proclaimed a State of Emergency as “severe winter storms related to a series of atmospheric river systems struck California, bringing high winds, substantial precipitation, and river and urban flooding.” Early this morning, President Joe Biden approved a federal Emergency Declaration for California in response to a request made yesterday by Gov. Newsom. The Presidential declaration provides federal funding for the State’s emergency response effort and mobilizes the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency to help “lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe” in 17 hard-hit counties.
Yesterday saw more than 20,000 Californians evacuated from their homes and 424,000 without power (as of this morning, that number has declined to about 130,000). CCA is in daily contact with the State’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES). At CalOES’s request, CCA yesterday issued a warning of potential flooding in Monterey, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties.
The National Weather Service (NWS) has warned of a “relentless parade of atmospheric rivers” hitting the state, and has issued severe weather warnings – including flood and flash flood advisories – for several counties. CCA advises members to stay abreast of the NWS forecasts and alerts for your area in the days to come. For further information, click here. Members are encouraged to keep CCA staff apprised of any emergency actions necessary to protect your herds, homes and families, and do not hesitate to contact CCA if we can assist in coordinating emergency response with CalOES or other state or local agencies.
CBD Petitions for CESA Protections of Greater Sage Grouse
On Friday, the California Fish and Game Commission issued an email acknowledging the agency’s receipt of a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity to list the Greater sage-grouse as an endangered species under the California Endangered Species Act. CBD’s petition identifies livestock “Grazing…as a factor affecting sage-grouse and its habitat” and goes so far as to refer to grazing as “an insidious form of biotic disturbance that has exerted ongoing disturbance on the sagebrush ecosystem over many decades.”
Efforts have been made to federally list Greater sage-grouse or “distinct population segments” of the species over the past decade, but CCA and our national partners at the Public Lands Council and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) have repeatedly been successful in preventing such federal listing, with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) twice withdrawing proposals to federally list the animal largely thanks to the voluntary efforts of ranchers to help conserve the species. While a judge for the Northern District of California last year held that the Service must reinstate a 2013 proposal to list the bi-state population of Greater sage-grouse as threatened, NCBA and other industry advocates have successfully sought riders to federal funding bills precluding listing of the Greater sage-grouse (the prohibition was recently extended in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, as reported below and in last week’s Legislative Bulletin).
The California Fish and Game Commission will formally receive the petition at its February meeting in Sacramento and anticipates receiving an evaluation and recommendation from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife at its April hearing. CCA will strenuously oppose the state listing petition, again highlighting the extensive voluntary efforts of California cattle producers to safeguard the species and its habitat.
UPDATE 118th Congress Sworn In; California’s Legislative Session Underway
On Friday, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA20) was elected Speaker of the House after a historic 15 rounds of Congressional balloting for the leadership position. The Bakersfield native’s election should prove welcome news for California cattle producers, as it ensures that one of the most powerful federal elected representatives will be able to elevate California issues at the national level.With a speaker elected, the 118th Congress has been sworn in and seated and the work of the federal legislature may begin in earnest.
The California State Legislature convened last Wednesday, and tomorrow the Legislature will receive a proposed Fiscal Year 2023-24 Budget from Gov. Gavin Newsom. Stay tuned for next week’s Legislative Bulletin, where CCA will highlight the potential impacts of the budget on cattlemen’s priority issues.
Curtailments Statewide Remain Temporarily Suspended
Due to recent precipitation, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) has suspended virtually all water rights curtailments throughout the state.
According to a Wednesday SWRCB email, all curtailments within the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed remain “temporarily suspended” through at least tomorrow, January 10. The SWRCB will issue another update tomorrow, and water rights holders are encouraged to monitor the Delta Watershed Curtailment Status list for the most up-to-date information.
The SWRCB announced on Thursday that all curtailments within the Scott River watershed are suspended through at least January 17 so long as the minimum flow rate of 200 cubic feet per second (cfs) is met at the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) Fort Jones gage.
Curtailment statuses for the Shasta River, Russian River, Mill Creek and Deer Creek watersheds remain unchanged from the temporary curtailment suspensions and conditional curtailments reported last week. For details on curtailment statuses in those watersheds, see last week’s Legislative Bulletin.
2023 Omnibus Appropriations Bill Includes Several Key Wins for Ranchers
In the final days of 2022, President Biden signed into law the $1.66 trillion Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, which funds the federal government through September 30. The funding bill contains several key provisions benefitting cattle producers, including an extension of the Electronic Logging Device exemption for livestock haulers, an extension of livestock mandatory reporting authority, a prohibition upon listing the Greater Sage Grouse under the Endangered Species Act and limitations on the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions “from biological processes associated with livestock production,” among other provisions. For more information, see last week’s edition of Legislative Bulletin.
EPA and Army Corps Finalize New WOTUS Rule
On December 30, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) finalized a rule rescinding the Trump-era Navigable Waters Protection Rule and replacing it with a new definition of “Waters of the United States”(WOTUS) – that is, waters subject to federal regulatory and permitting jurisdiction. Fortunately, the Final Rule continues to exempt from WOTUS various agricultural water features, such as artificial lakes used for irrigation purposes and stock ponds. Unfortunately, the Final Rule expands federal jurisdiction to several other waters which the ranching community had advocated be excluded, including some ephemeral tributaries and vernal pools. The Final Rule comes as the U.S. Supreme Court is considering a case which could shape the contours of federal jurisdiction under WOTUS, and CCA anticipates that this Final Rule will be the subject to forthcoming legal challenges. For more information, see last week’s edition of Legislative Bulletin.
CCA has a New Location!
The California Cattlemen’s Association is excited to announce that we have a new office location and will be moving in the coming week. CCA’s new address is 3841 North Freeway Blvd., Suite 130, Sacramento, CA 95834.
Please note, the CCA office will be closed on Monday, Jan. 16 with no access to phones or internet.
New Episode of Sorting Pen: The California Cattleman Podcast
CCA Second Vice Presidents Mike McCluskey and Frank Imhof are our guests on this first episode of Season 3 of Sorting Pen: The California Cattleman Podcast. In this quick 20 minutes learn about each of them and their reasons for wanting to serve on CCA’s officer team for the next two years. Make sure to listen to the full episode for an update on CCA’s upcoming building move too. Click here to listen.