Transcript: The State of State Programs for Natural and Working Lands (CA Climate Policy Summit 2023)

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TCC Staff  (00:01):

Hi, I’m gonna get out my computer,


<laugh>. All right. Hello everyone. Thank you so much for your patience. Uh, my name is [inaudible]. Um, I work at The Climate Center and I lead our natural carbon sequestration initiative. So if you’re here to learn about nature-based solutions, you are in the right room. Um, I’m really excited about all of the fabulous panelists that we have here today. Um, as well as our, uh, dynamite moderator, Paul Mason, if you don’t know him already, he is a regular fixture in the Capitol, um, and has been doing this good work for a very long time. So very excited to have him here as well. Um, and I’ll let him, uh, come and introduce the panel a little bit as well as a panelist. Thank you for being with us,

Paul Mason (00:39):

Paul. Thanks, Bonnie. Nothing like making me feel like an artifact to get started here, <laugh>. Well, I was really thrilled to have the opportunity to talk about, sorry, our natural Working lands programs here in, in California because I feel like it’s oftentimes the forgotten part of the climate change conversation, where somehow we lose track of the fact that nature is really foundational to everything. It’s where our wood comes from, our food, our fiber, our water, and as Californians and Americans, and mostly Europeans, I think we’ve really, certainly all less than 200 years old, we’ve really lost track of how different Californian landscape is today compared to how, what the condition was before European colonists showed up before we put down all the forests and, you know, converted the Central Valley into ag lands and removed fire from the landscape. We’ve really fundamentally changed what California looks like, and that has really degraded the amount of carbon that is stored on the landscape, but has also made us dramatically less resilient to climate impact regardless of how effective we are at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.


Climate change is here and we are not nearly, um, prepared and resilient enough on the landscape. So it’s been really great over the last number of years. You know, I’ve been, uh, working for Pacific Forest Trust for 14 years and Sierra Club for half a dozen years before that. So I’ve been in Sacramento for 20 years and worked in timber on North Coast before that. And over that arc of time, you know, the state regulatory agencies have evolved dramatically from really just, you know, facilitating permits for extraction of natural resources to really driving on how do we try and get back to a more resilient ignition and take advantage of some of the opportunities to address climate change. So I’m really thrilled with the four panelists that we have here today. And just to introduce them briefly and get to their actual presentations, Amanda Hanson.


Closest to me here is the Deputy Secretary for Climate Change over at California Natural Resource Agency. She’s been in that role since April of 2019 from she’s back New York Department and in the White House next to her is Matt Botill, who his Real Strategies Division chief over their resources board. And in that role, he has, um, his portfolio includes all of the air resources boards interactions around natural working lands, which in the last number of years have become very substantial. They’ve become one of the, the big new players on the block. Next to Matt is Michael Wolff over from the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Uh, Michael is a doctorate in soils and works on a number of the different, uh, relevant programs at CDFA. And we’ll list all of them because we’re trying to do a quick version here, but they also have a lot going on in this space.


And lastly, uh, Rachel Wagoner is the director of Cal Cycle. I think I first started working with Rachel when she was in the Senate working for the environment staff and the Environmental Quality Committee. She has been in a myriad of different roles in Sacramento going back to Davis administration and and beyond. Uh, so really my, my pleasure to have, uh, this really fantastic panel. They’re gonna make the presentations. I’ll follow up with a handful of questions from the moderator and then we’ll go to questions from the audience. So with that, you wanna take it away, Amanda?

Amanda Hansen (03:22):

Yes. Let’s see. Can people hear me? No. Okay. This one’s working. It’s going. I just have to get really close. That’s not really, oh, I can’t hear that at all. So I’m glad you can. Okay. Um, well thanks for being here today, especially after lunch. We’re gonna try to get edit back at time. Um, as Paul mentioned, I’m the Deputy Secretary for Climate Change at the Natural Resources Agency in California. And my role today is kind of walk through at a very high level, what has the statement doing, uh, to deliver climate action in this sector? And kind of bring you up to speed on the various pieces that have been moving and how we think about sort of the evolution of this sector just in very recent years, as Paul mentioned, a lot is shipping. So I’ll, I’ll start back in October of 2020 when Governor Newsom issued an executive order, essentially saying we need to really up our, a game on integrating nature-based solutions into our entire climate agenda.


Both our efforts to reduce emissions, western carbon deliver on carbon neutrality, but also our commitment to building a resilient California. So, um, there was a lot of actions called for that executive order. Um, two of them I’ll point to as sort of direct, um, important milestones in our story on HB solutions. One is developing a statewide strategy for exactly how do we integrate nature-based plant solutions into our climate policy. So we worked, um, with a lot of partners across all the regions in California, significant public engagement to develop this strategy. And it essentially outlines for all of California’s landscapes, what are the priority nature-based solutions we wanna see on those landscapes. So to support, you know, resilient and healthy forests, what are the practices that we know deliver climate benefits, both resilience and mitigation benefits. We also released, or the executive orders order also called for, um, California sort of set and established the state percent of, so both of the strategies were developed through significant public engagement and released in early 2022.


And I would call this phase sort of phase one, what do we need to do? Then we move into phase two, which Matt is gonna go into a lot more detail on, which is, how much of this do we need, right? And I’ll just say the scoping plan this year for the very first time actually modeled emissions from the lands to understand and hurt us in our interest in delivering on carbon neutrality by 2045. Um, and again, Matt will go into a lot more detail, but what we ended up with in the 2022 scoping plan was a carbon stock target for the nature sector. That’s phase two. How much of this do we need? We are now in phase three, which is how are we gonna get there from here? Because what we know from that carbon stock target is we are going to need unprecedented levels of climate, smart land management in California.


So, as an example in our forests and, uh, case people are target in order to deliver on that carbon stock target for wetlands, California’s wetlands, do we need to set a really ambitious goal for restoring our wetlands beyond what exists now? Um, we have a lot of questions like that <laugh>. So, um, I’ll, I’ll just point to a couple other things that are sort of, I’d say part of our phase three approach, how to get there from here. One of those things is record levels of state funding for nature-based climate solutions in the last three years. Um, we’re actually in the process of calculating this, I should know, but I don’t. Um, we’ve invested billions of general fund dollars in, uh, nature-based climate solution in California. So historic levels of funding for this work in our forest in our communities through urban greening and, and, uh, forestry along our coasts, along in our, on our farms.


Michael will talk about, um, landscapes. We are really driving for, for increased climate action on our lands. Another sort of path for how are we gonna get there is record federal funding. So we’re really working hard to position California and I know many of you are doing the same. So thank you for your work in this space. Cause it’s also really complicated and hard. But we’re working to position California to access that group federal funding that’s gonna be available for all of our climate smart practices. Um, and then lastly, but certainly not least, a bill was passed last year called AB 1757. And this bill is a new framework for the nature sector delivering on our climate. Um, our, our climate goals in California, and I’ll just sort of summarize, it calls for the development of an ambition, range of targets for this sector. So as I mentioned, like once we think about wetland targets or forest or other targets, um, we can be as creative as, as and want.


Um, it calls on standardizing the way that we account for emissions on the landscapes. It calls for standardizing the way that we report on our progress in achieving those targets. Um, and it, it very helpfully called for the development of an expert advisory committee to help us think through a lot of this and make recommendations for how best to move forward. So that that committee got up and running earlier this year in February. The targets are due in January of 2024. So we are on a very tight timeframe. Um, but I encourage everyone, if you’re interested in participating in that process, we’re weighing in on how we might want to think about those targets and other elements of what’s called for it in 1757. Um, you know, there’s, um, technically published Publish Clark and they’re always open to the public and we always have public comment periods available and I’m also very welcome to or open to sitting down with anyone who’s interested in talking more about this. So I think with that I’ll hand off to Matt. Thank you.

Matt Botill (08:21):

Hey, good afternoon everybody. So you’re probably wondering what does a guy who has industrial strategies division chief and his name have to do with sitting on a panel on nature-based climate solutions? And Amanda laid it out. I’m gonna, I’m gonna give out, I’ll give a little bit more, more specifics. So, uh, I’ve been working for CARB now for over 15 years and in that time it’s been almost entirely focused on climate change. How do we address and mitigate the greenhouse gas emissions that we are releasing into the atmosphere that are causing climate change here in California? And then across the globe. And over the 15 year history, I’ve had the opportunity to work both on the energy that needs to happen, but also on deploying, uh, climate solutions from natural and working lands to support, uh, carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas reductions. And, and really that started when I got engaged on the deployment of all of our cap and trade auction proceeds back in 20 13, 20 14.


And we had decisions and the legislature made decisions to fund a lot of major based solutions to support, uh, greenhouse gas reductions here in California. And that was a really, uh, clear watershed moment on the climate strategy and nature-based solutions to be able to fund those activities and create a funding pot that we could all deploy for, uh, natural working lands. And so fast forward to where we are today, my portfolio in the industrial strategies division includes our long neighborhood. I’m develop exchange scoping plan, which is a five year, it’s a plans update every five years that, uh, identifies a path to how we can achieve our climate change targets that we have here in the state of California. And, uh, uh, in 2019 and 2020, we started in the industrial studies division at car, the process of updating that climate change scoping plan with an hybrids carbon neutrality.


And I saw the opportunity as long as well as a few others, amand here as well and, and a few others in the administration to really lift up, uh, natural working lands in the scoping plan and identify how we could leverage our lands to support our climate targets in California. And really initiate the detailed work that we needed to get at that question thatAnd raise, which is, you know, what should our carbon targets be for natural working lands? What types of action should we deploy? What was a quantitative level of action and outcomes that we need to support our climate change mitigation targets in California? And so, you know, we took advantage of that opportunity. Um, for those of you that are unfamiliar with, uh, what carbon neutrality means, it’s different than our traditional greenhouse gas mitigation targets. Um, historically, we as a state have been striving for greenhouse gas reductions.


Uh, and those come in the forms of cutting the emissions that come from our energy use and from activities in California that are not gas use emissions that come from waste and from other sectors. And we’ve been very successful in reducing those emissions. We’ve hit our greenhouse gas targets, reduction targets early in terms of the, the 2020 target we hit four years early. And, you know, we are now, you know, working towards our 2030 greenhouse gas reduction target. But again, those are reduction targets that’s different than carbon neutrality. We know, and I’m sure you’ve heard from many of the panelists this morning, that if we’re going to avoid making climate change worse, we need to stop loading the atmosphere with greenhouse gas emissions. We need to ultimately start removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it to be a net negative. But at least we need to get to a point of neutrality where we’re not.


And that’s carbon neutrality. And that means it doesn’t matter if the emissions are coming from, you know, combustion of, uh, fossil fuel or if they’re coming off of a landscape that is being emitted, they are still increasing the concentration of emissions in the atmosphere. We need to address those. So with this new focus on carbon neutrality and with the process update the the state’s scoping plan, we started a two plus year process to at, um, how can lands help us get to carbon neutrality? What are the emission sources from lands that are also gonna make it harder to get to carbon neutrality? And what is the timeframe that we should really be shooting for in terms of when we could realistically expect the state to achieve carbon neutrality? So, you know, fast forward through a lot of public meetings, a lot of technical analysis, uh, a lot of late nineties, we were able to, uh, get a scoping plan approved by the board in December, just this last year that lays that, that that pathway to carbon neutrality.


And this is reinforced by what really was another amark year for climate policy legislation in California with the passage of a number of bills in the legislature and with the governor’s signature in September of last year. And make it clear that California’s goal now is carbon neutrality by 2045. Um, that we also have a goal of reducing our greenhouse gas emissions areas of pro greenhouse gas emissions, say that’s important, 85% below, uh, 1990 levels by 2045. And that we are going to deploy, uh, all the tools that we can to get to that carbon neutrality endpoint. That includes accelerating our patient scale of nature-based solutions to help us reduce emissions from carbon and also technologies, fuel switching and other carbon removal technologies to help us get to that 85% and 2045 carbon neutrality target. So what we did when we looked at the work, we looked at carbon neutrality in natural working lands.


We, for the first time ever in any jurisdiction, we did a detailed analysis across the entire state of California where our natural working heads card pools, what are the actions that we can take on natural working leads that help carbon? How expensive are they? What are some of the benefits that come with taking these actions? How quickly can we deploy them? We worked across the administration with the demand and her team and others, Michael as well. Um, and, and return the power cycle team as well to identify the, the set of strategies that we were able to analyze from a technical standpoint to say what the emissions would be, what the emission sequestration would be. Uh, it’s not perfect. We’ve got a lot of critiques and a lot of input and really appreciate that input. But it’s a starting point for us to be able to say, here’s how you quantitatively assess the actions that we can take on our land and include them in our, in our overall targets towards meeting carbon neutrality.


And that gives us an accountability standpoint. It gives us a place to be able to say, okay, we know we need to accelerate action. We know that these actions have benefits. We were able to do some assessment on what those benefits are. Let’s keep working on that assessment. Let’s do that. The 1757 process, there are more than mentioned, but let’s not hold back on making progress before. Got the opportunity to the folks on this panel, um, bring to the table you all to look at next year, the year beyond to start deploying the strategies. A call from the scoping plan that I’m on her team called for in the Claim smart strategy. And then reassess what that means for getting to carbon neutrality as part of the next scope plan, cuz that’s just right around the corner. So, um, we’re really excited about it and look forward to the questions.

Audience (14:11):


Matt Botill (14:16):

It works. You just have to have faith

Michael Wolff (14:18):

There. There actually is the PowerPoint. Great. I do need it. Yeah. Mine is is, um,

Matt Botill (14:23):

Hey, I didn’t get mine. I was gonna

Michael Wolff (14:24):

Say, wait, you got your first slide? Oh, was up there

Matt Botill (14:26):

<laugh>? I was promised a

Audience (14:28):

Clicker. Yeah, the clicker would be nice if there is one on the call. Okay. Um, okay. Thank you. They’re gonna go all the way out. Oh, okay. <laugh>. Alright.


Um, yeah, to make


A long story short, um, it

Michael Wolff (14:51):

My privilege to work on the quantification and, and different aspects of our adaptation and mitigation programs at the Department of Food and Agriculture. And we’ll be particularly focusing on some of the nitty gritty details, really, of our, uh, climate Smart Agriculture incentive programs, uh, from the Department of Food and Agriculture. I’m gonna pitch my talk to try to be a comprehensible to everyone, but also to, uh, deliver the recent news in our programs fundamentally. And to make a bit of a through line between the, uh, scoping plan and the natural and the tragedy. Uh, so just to stage, uh, agriculture accounts for between seven and 8% of the, um, the forestry is a little bit overstated there, uh, between seven and 8% of the, um, of the total, uh, greenhouse gas emissions, uh, from the state where, uh, dairies through manure management and cow burps, uh, have a, have a significant, uh, uh, contribution through methane.


You see also eggs, soil management as roughly speaking nitrous oxide coming from the application of manure or, um, uh, nitrogenous fertilizers. Um, it’s worth bearing in mind that most, uh, agricultural lands in California are no longer emitting carbon. They already lost their carbon. And so they’re at steady, we’re talking about restoring, uh, levels of carbon that would be healthier for the soil and would be, would be closer aligned with historical reality in, in, in most places. Um, okay. So we’ll move ahead. Uh, first inevitably our first point of focus is the Healthy Soils program, which is, uh, uh, focused on, um, incentivizing two years of practice with an agreement from the farmers that they’ll do a third year of practice of a number of, of, of, of different, uh, uh, uh, implementations. A number of different practices. Um, it is not intended as a, as a long-term subsidy program, it’s aimed at adoption of new practices by people who haven’t been doing them already.


The adaptation co-benefits or the resilience co-benefits you could say are really quite important. They include, uh, resistance to erosion and greater water retention and, and lower application needs for, for pesticides. What we, uh, we keep the program open for new practices, uh, through a rigorous demonstration project research, uh, research opportunity that’s available every year. Um, and it’s worth noting that we did see, uh, uh, record levels of funding this year and last and in, in, in the coming year at about 66, excuse Little Ox in the corner. Um, but fundamentally, the point has to be made that those record levels of funding are really the minimum that have to stick in order to achieve, uh, targets that have been set for the scoping plan. Okay. So just sailing quickly for a little bit of perspective through, through some of the practices that are most commonly implemented, compost is far away, the most, uh, the most, uh, popular, uh, cover cropping has been vacillating quite strongly. That or drug use is on the, um, and there is a significant, uh, interest in, in, in no-till, um, whole or true recycling and mulching, uh, are, are, are ordaining. Um, and there’s also some, some practices on rangelands that are, that are obscured there by the, by the little box, um, prescribed grazing and, and range land plant, which, which covers significant amounts of


Area. It’s not responding. Yeah. Could we, we go forward a, a slight,


Uh, yeah, there we go. Okay. So another program that’s logical to focus upon is our irrigation efficiency program, fundamentally, but it’s not just an irrigation efficiency program. It also requires greenhouse gas reductions as, as part of every project. Um, that includes upgrades of irrigation type and irrigation monitoring. Pump pump efficiency in conversion to it has caused some conation in the past to that. Certain people who, who, who received surface deliveries we’re not able to, um, to get these projects because they’re, they couldn’t show any greenhouse gas reductions. On the contrary, they would have greater greenhouse gas emissions if they were implementing micro irrigation, which is a good thing overall. But they were being shut out of the program. Fortunately, we now, uh, have, have bro broken a little bit loose of our original confines. We can demonstrate that there are nitrous oxide, greenhouse micro irrigation projects, which, which helped to remedy that.


And we’ve also had a sub, uh, uh, a, uh, a pilot program in this other desert region where there was not that greenhouse gas, um, uh, stricture so that people, as in the Imperial Valley would, would, would, would be, uh, apt for these, for these programs. Our funding has vacillated wildly and it would be nice to do something about that. We do serve one of the nature-based climate solutions, uh, for irrigation, irrigation and nutrient use. Efficiency New Pro, um, are on ICE for the coming year. Um, but, but most of them had one or two years of, of, of, of successful funding. Uh, there’s the water Efficiency technical Assistance, uh, program, which, which funds local organizations to go around and do, um, evaluations of how to improve people’s, uh, irrigation systems. Pollinator habitat speaks for itself, I have to say the installation of, of Habitat where a, where a commitment is made to maintain, to maintain that habitat.


Um, conservation agriculture planning grant program also helps people convert to organic because they can make organic system plans. Um, and that pays for consultants to prepare plans, uh, for Farmers Organic Transition pilot program, which is upcoming, um, with a strong focus on, uh, on social disadvantaged farmers and ranchers to try to improve their, uh, representation in the organic field. Um, and that’s all we have to, uh, focus on there for the moment. It’s worth go, it’s worth mentioning, uh, before I wrap up, that there is a general transition going on with, uh, in some of our programs and in some, and to a partial degree in other programs, to, uh, to give out grants as what we call block grant to local organizations. The local organizations would need to show expertise and presence on the ground technical expertise and the ability to reach out and fund farmers and have a transparent award process and then manage the funds and manage the, uh, the, the, the follow up to the project. So that is an, uh, an important, uh, unimportant direction of, of travel. I was going to say a little bit about SB 1383, just just for just for a second. Um, the, the overall efforts to reduce methane emissions, obviously Benjamin, but the rate impact only available on those to facilitate these healthy soils in organic, uh, goals that have been set as part of the scoping plan and as the nature-based, uh, solutions. And we’re also looking for a great field of action in an enteric, uh, fermentation, uh, as time goes on. Thank you.

Rachel Wagoner (21:02):

That was the perfect transition. Uh, 1383 was from Michael was the perfect transition. Well, thank you all. Um, it is nice to see all of you today. I’m sure you are sitting here wondering, as many of the last conferences that I’ve attended on climate change have wondered what is the person in charge of California’s waste doing at a climate policy, uh, conference? Um, so I thought, first and foremost, I would address the question of what does waste have to do with climate change? And my answer is absolutely everything. Uh, well, 55% of global climate emissions can be cut by a full transition to renewable energy cutting. The last 45% will require changing how we produce and consume materials, um, from the extraction of dwindling raw materials that we all know about, to the creation of single use or short life consumer goods to the fuel and energy burn, to transport waste and incinerated, unfortunately, to the methane and other pollution created by organics, uh, disposed in landfills, um, waste and climate change are completely intertwined and interconnected.


Uh, Californians have been working very hard for decades to deal and with waste and reduce the amount of waste that we produce. Um, we’ve done a great job in our recycling programs. We’ve recycled 455 billion bottles in cans since the inception of the bottle bill program. Um, uh, 2.64 million, uh, excuse me, 2.6 waste room. Uh, when we talk about, uh, waste, uh, reduction and, uh, since the inception of our, our little Tiny Organics program, 1383 recycling, uh, we have, uh, composted 6 million tons of waste here in California. Uh, unfortunately though, that means we, uh, uh, we did a waste characterization study in 2021. Californians are recycling 42% of what we, uh, throw away. And, uh, we are still disposing in landfills 41 million tons of waste. And I’d like you to get your head around that for a second. That’s a ton per every California over a ton per every California.


So this is why I wanna talk to you today about waste and climate change, because we can do better. We have to do better, uh, because our raw mat materials in California and the globe are dwindling as we move forward. Uh, we need to be thinking about the extraction of not only petroleum, but metals and other fossil fuels. And, uh, we are on track to double what we’re using from 92 billion tons to 190 if we don’t change the way we consume goods. By 2060, the world could run out of raw materials like you also to get your head around that. By 2060, we could run out of raw materials. So how we consume and how we dispose absolutely needs to change plastic alone. One of the ones that has been most popular in the last couple of years is mind boggling. We’ve created 900 million metric tons of plastic on this planet.


Um, and as we all know, the plastic that we created in the 1960s and 1970s, every single piece of plastic we’ve ever created still exists on this planet. In nine, in 2019 alone, we created 459 million metric tons of plastic. We are more than double from there. It is time to change, just to give you a sense of what that means in terms of climate change. If the production disposal and incineration of pla uh, plastic, which we luckily don’t do in this state, but is done all over the world, continue at their pres present growth trajectory by 2030, global emissions from plastic could reach 1.34 gigatons per year. That’s the equivalent to about 300, 500 megawatt coal plants by 2016. That more than double to 2.8, uh, gigatons of CO2 per year. Um, so I feel like this is important to talk about, uh, in the context about when we get to nature-based solutions.


Our organics production was almost 50% of that 41 million tons. 50% of what we threw away was organic material, 4.4 million tons of that was food waste. We throw away, each family four throws away, about $1,500 worth of still edible food every year. We can do better by making some simple changes. I know this is a lot and it’s, you know, like all things, as you all work in climate policy, like all things climate policy, it feels very dire. But I’m here to tell you, this is good news. I see this is good news. Um, I wouldn’t have done this for 20 plus years if I didn’t think that there was good news in light at the end of the tunnel. Um, the good news is that this is an opportunity to make change. Um, and that by making change in how we consume and dispose of consumer goods, that we can not only fight climate change in all those horrific, and climate change doesn’t actually heal the planet.


I’m here to tell you that part of the reason I’m in the job that I’m in is I see an opportunity to heal. I see an opportunity to move forward and heal the planet, not just mitigate the damage that we’ve done, adapt the damage that that has already been done, but we can actually heal. Uh, 1383 is, as Michael pointed out, our, our methane reduction in short-lived climate pollution reduction legislation that was passed in 2016 in California reduce our organic waste, uh, landfill by 75% by 2025. And that is but a heartbeat away in terms of time. But the good news is that we are making incredible progress. Our local governments, more than half of them have their residential and commercial organic waste collection programs in place, and the other half are well on their way or, uh, or working with us, or we’re working with them to get well on their way.


Um, and so we have an opportunity here. Uh, compost is going to be, and it’s one of my all-time favorite things to talk about. I don’t know why Michael and I haven’t spent more time together. Uh, it is an absolute opportunity to heal our planet. As Michael pointed out, it sequesters carbon, it reduces the mud water and pesticides that we need. It is, I think, the number one solution to healing our planet by 2025. My hope is that we get to that 75% reduction rate. We don’t, we will. And we’re taking big million cars off the road, 3 million cars. So, uh, I just got, I, I just got the, the hook. So I will just conclude with, we have an opportunity here. I wanna be working with each and every one of you as we embark on not only mitigating and adapting to climate change, but healing our planet. Thanks so much. That’s all

Paul Mason (27:08):

I get there. Yeah. Well, thank you for, thank you for bringing that back around there when you were running through your nightmare scenario of drowning and plastics. So I was like, Rachel <laugh>, you’re killing me here. Exactly. A ton of waste of peace. Bring it back around to composting. Um, so I can ask a couple of questions and then go to the audience here. So think about what your, you know, pithy, um, point on point question is, but we all, um, start with Amanda. Um, you were referencing the large amounts of general fund that have been allocated over the last couple of years. Of course there’s been a lot of federal money, uh, committed as well that’s still trickling its way down to the states. And it’s not entirely clear what that’s going to, how that’s going to manifest. I will note on a lot of that money that is being pushed out from the state, that a lot of that, so the budget, um, situation has deteriorated dramatically since the last couple of years. And the conversation now is about how much of that to take back and use for other mandatory purposes like schools. Um, so right last I saw the estimate for how much of a short floor was, is in a $30 billion range. It’s a hearing on many of these things actually on Thursday. Um, so call your legislators <laugh>. Um, but one thing you didn’t touch on on years ago by Senator Skinner, SB 27 is supposed to create another funding, um, opportunity. Do you wanna talk about that

Amanda Hansen (28:15):

For a while? Yes, absolutely. Thank you Paul. Um, so Senator Skinner saw an opportunity, essentially we have lots of these nature-based climate solution programs. We have incredible numbers of applications for those programs, and we only have so many state dollars. So there’s a lot of really great projects that just don’t get funded because we are, we don’t have enough money. So what Skinner Center Sky did was essentially say, all right, resources agency, create a project registry that will essentially allow projects that don’t get state funding, but we’re eligible to receive them. So, you know, check the boxes of eligibility for these programs, um, and create a place for them to essentially be on a secondary market. Or a company that has an ESG commitment or some other interest in funder can say, you know, we really want to fund a c mitigation project in this particular region.


What are these nature-based climate solution, uh, projects that are out there that we might be able to use to fund to achieve our particular goals, whatever they may be. Um, so this, this registry is being, is in the process of being developed right now. We are statutorily required to have, uh, the registry go live on July 1st of this year. Um, without going into a lot of the details, I’ll just say we will have a beta version going live by July 1st. And the goal is to allow people the opportunity to sort of play with it and see if we won’t have real projects on there. We will probably have some example projects, but to allow people to say, I really don’t like this feature, or You’re really missing this important feature. Or, you know, whatever feedback, um, can be provided and making process to to, to launch the registry, um, and get projects that either went through the state process and didn’t get funding or didn’t apply for state dollars, but wanna be on the registry to explore whether there’s, you know, just get visibility to funders.


Right now we have, um, a discussion draft and draft regulatory language out for public comment. And, um, those are available on our website. And I think it would be just really helpful if any of you have time and capacity to take a look, wait in on any or all of the questions that we’ve asked or answer other questions that we didn’t ask, but should have, um, to inform the, the process of creating this registry. I think, man, I don’t know what the deadline is. We gave people 60 days and we just at least did a couple weeks ago, so there’s still a lot of time.

Paul Mason (30:19):

Yeah. Deadline for roughly the end of May. Um, and it’s was an interesting opportunity to have that registry and also raises a lot of complicated questions like how do we make sure the projects there are actually good and that it’s not that they weren’t funded by the state because they were lousy projects. So we don’t wanna just make them, you know, immediately shut them onto the state back registry. But, um, when I look out and make sure that we get a chance to get some questions in here. Yeah,

Audience (30:40):

Thanks so much. Um, I’ve followed along with the, the carbon process on, it’s so exciting to see where we’ve gotten to and so important that we have seres carbon natural model, this nature of mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And I love that that is saying we have to, but my question is, um, what sorts of independent verification validation do you see doing in the farming area, the forestry area, um, oh, to document what we’re getting in terms of carbon administration?

Paul Mason (31:29):

And just to restate that a little bit cause I was asked to do so, um, I think the question was fundamentally about how is the state going to look at actual projects that happen on the ground to verify and validate the benefits for purposes of keeping track in the state current, you know, climate economy.

Matt Botill (31:44):

You’ve asked the question that is near and dear to my heart, so I’ll try to run. Um, so there, there’s a couple of different components to this and I’m gonna try and separate that them out a little bit. The, the first is, you know, setting statewide targets, you know, what’s the purpose of the statewide target? It, it’s to provide a guidepost, you know, an outcome that we are shooting for as a state to make sure we’re making progress on the types of strategies that we need. And those targets are across a diverse set of landscapes, um, for a, a state that has an incredible diversity in terms of both landscapes and people and activities. And really they’re meant to tell us how can we take action and what are the types of actions? And then knowing that those targets are statewide, knowing that there’s going to be differences in how things get implemented going forward.


Um, so and I say that because for natural working lands and for the scoping plan and the targets we set in the scoping plan, those are statewide targets. We did a lot of assessments on the, to look at what are the grass gas impacts and benefits of various different activities across the entire state individual landscape scale. You have to make some assumptions and you have to use the model tools and the data that you have and the literature that you have, your assessments be by no means is it done. And, you know, I’m committed and I’ve, I’ve said this a number of times to make sure that in subsequent scoping plans, we do more analysis and more statewide modeling to inform targets that is improved by new data, new science, new methods and methods that are validated on the ground by, um, academics and practitioners and that are fed into the modeling tools that we need to deploy to create, you know, updated targets for the scoping plan.


And so I’m excited about the fact that we have this advisory committee connect that when the churches is to inform these modeling strategies that we need for, for target setting going forward. And my expectation is they will have some very good input on what, you know, the, the, the modeling tools do well, what they don’t do well, what needs additional data to, to support it, to be able to be included and, and, and so and so forth. And so that process is gonna play out this year and somewhat into next year as we work with the the advisory committee.


All of that can happen at the same time we take action on the ground, we can and, and it should. And so, uh, when it comes to individual projects, then the question becomes, you know, like for a project on the SB 27 registry for instance, and, and Paul touched on this, how do you have confidence that the state claims of those projects are, um, actually going to happen? And in the carbon accounting world, this is, you know, typically referred to as monitoring, reporting and verification. You need those projects to, to monitor what they’re doing to report on what they’re doing. And then you need some form of, uh, verification either with the product operator or from a third party to the audit and verify the claims that those projects are happening are doing. We have a number of these types of mrv, um, protocols that exist now in both voluntary and compliance markets.


SB 27 asset card established, it’ll get more. And so that’s part of the SB 27 work. And AB 1757 now has carve also, um, providing additional guidance on statewide regional reporting and, and um, and data validation as well as individual kind of project level. And so we have to build the capacity to do this and we are going to do it and we, I’ll make a plug here. We just got Z 57 pass in September. We’ve gotta BCP and London and I have, and see if they have a joint BCP for the legislature this year. If all things go as planned, we’ll have some positions to be able to fill and to, to do that work and to, to build out the technical tools to support the MRV for both regional and statewide reporting and also on the project side as well. So, um, this is an area that, that the state is gonna be investing research to make sure that when people pick this 27 projects, they have confidence in those. And when we pick targets as part of the scoping plan, we do the statewide modeling. People have confidence in those targets and these things are connected together.

Paul Mason (35:08):

And as part of my acronym watch duties, PCP is a budget change proposal. It’s what the agencies do to request money or positions. Cause I’m new initiative.

Matt Botill (35:15):

Yeah, you caught me

Paul Mason (35:16):

<laugh> other duties as assigned. Joshua was first. And then let’s try and keep these rolling cause we’re gonna run short on time here.

Audience (35:24):

Question law versus shouldn’t that be for the modeling you were not only capturing, but maintaining other psychological

Matt Botill (35:34):

Standard. Okay, so I I can drone on Byers. Yeah. Um, yeah, so this is actually one of the things that we set out to do this time around that was different ely, different from previous efforts on, on nature-based solutions and, and, and carbon. Previously we had, you know, somewhat myopically focused on what gets us most, you know, carbon benefit or the most greenhouse gas reduction benefit without thinking about other, um, benefits that lands provide in terms of biodiversity, water quality, air quality. And so it, this, this is also an area where we need to conduct tools, innovations. Uh, I was hoping that we could do more in this round of the scope and play, quite frankly, than what we’re able to do. But it, it takes time to do this and to, to have the tools to, to have the people in the analysis and, and get the feedback to, to be able to do this and look at like, if you push forward on murex, what does that mean from a biodiversity from, uh, you know, role, economic employment opportunity from, you know, air quality? Like what does that mean in terms of the types of benefits and how do you fold that into your target setting? And that’s the work that more than I are doing and we’ll do with the committee and as part of a subsequent go. You wanna,

Amanda Hansen (36:31):

I would just add, I mean, I think one of the things I like to plug as the sort of phase of nature based non solutions is you will not get the carbon benefits you’re looking for if you do not have a resilient landscape. So I think that’s well understood across the administration. And so I love to be able to talk about the fact that these are solutions that deliver on both pieces of our agenda. So you get, you get more for, I do not wanna say bang for the buck, but that’s kind of what I

Paul Mason (36:54):

Mean, right? The, the goal cannot be to maximize carbon on the landscape, right? It has to be resilient and reflective of natural conditions. I get back to Brandon first and then

Audience (37:09):

What’s the number one?

Rachel Wagoner (37:16):

Oh, great question. I love the last part of that question, <laugh>. Um, the question was what is the greatest hurdle, the goals, um, between 13 three goals? Um, unfortunately I think the biggest hurdle is time. Uh, you know, the pandemic hit a time when everybody was, we’re starting embark on this brand new obligation and this change the way we think of, uh, waste. But I think infrastructure is a big part of that and, um, would love to sit down and talk to you about this. But one of the things that, um, governor Newsom launched a couple of years ago in the budget that we’re moving even farther on is, um, a, uh, a tool, uh, where we’re building out the circular economy in 1383 is the first such place that we’re doing that. And in this year’s budget, we move to, um, uh, we are looking to build, um, the first statewide ever zero waste plan.


Um, so support for the administration’s zero waste plan would be huge because what that’s going to allow Cal recycle to do is identify the gaps in all of our circular systems, the foremost of which right now is our organics recycling, uh, recovery and recycling systems. And what that really means is where do we need the infrastructure and what kind of infrastructure do we need and where are the breakdowns by region and population, um, and community. So for instance, we have, and I’m very proud of this, California has the largest codi digestion plant in all of North America that was built in Rialto, but part of making plant, um, successful in, uh, collection and recycling of that organic, making sure that they supply the right kind of feed stock. So when I think about the state’s role, I think about us as a, as a wheel, and the state is at the center of the wheel with all of the spokes going out to our private partners and our local partners to make sure that every point from collection to recycling to reuse and then, uh, procurement is met.


So, uh, yes, and you know, funding’s always helpful <laugh>, but the biggest piece is getting infrastructure built, getting into places. And we’re working with natural resources right now on a nature-based solution, uh, as part of the larger user-based solution budget, uh, proposal on how do we get small to medium sized composting facilities built because citing those and the cost of permitting those has been cost-prohibitive for private composters. So those are the tools that we’re looking for and the gaps that we’re looking for and the tools to, to fill them. So support of our zero waste proposal would be great because it allows us to build out a statewide plan for waste. Yeah,

Paul Mason (39:33):


Rachel Wagoner (39:33):

Great question.

Paul Mason (39:34):

Yeah. You know, I think it’s at the end there you raise a question or a point that many of us in the environ community are going to have to sort of come, come to grips with about, like, it can’t take 10 and 15 years to permit and build some of these facilities to let us actually achieve these goals. We need to figure out how to get it good enough a lot quicker if we’re going to be moving quick enough to make a difference.

Audience (39:52):

Yeah. Can I,

Rachel Wagoner (39:53):

Paul, can I add one thing to that that maybe somewhat controversial Please. And my, um, for this work committee, you know, uh, that I am a staunch, uh, supporter and defender of squa and have been a staunch supporter and defender of squa for many years. What I have recently come to appreciate and that the permitting process for especially composting facilities and other facilities that are really meant to reduce environmental burdens is that this, that meant for mitigation of environmental harm, it does not contemplate projects under its definition that are meant for environmental benefit, which doesn’t mean that there can’t be both, but that c a really needs to be, uh, that we need to create either a parallel process or a different process when we look at projects that are built and made or environmental benefit, it was never intended, as we all know, when SPR was written, it was intended for large public work project projects to prevent, you know, giant who dams all over the state of California, et cetera. Um, it wasn’t intended for these types of projects and it really has impeded the development of infrastructure in the circular economy overall. Um, and we’re really seeing that, uh, as a problem with 1383. Matt?

Matt Botill (40:55):

Yeah, I just wanted to layer in a little bit more and, and say that, you know, this, this question of like time being our biggest enemy, a hundred percent, right? Like, if I land solutions plan, what needs to happen? Um, we have very little time to deploy the renewable electricity that we need. The, the low carbon fuels, the technologies on the vehicle side, the electrification on buildings, and, you know, the industrial strategies needed to reduce emissions from the industrial elector. Um, all of this stuff needs to happen very quickly and, and it’s, you know, I’m gonna create a little bit of analog here, um, both on the national working land side and on the energy use side. We have 150 now system that we have on fossil fuel use, on, you know, forest management, on ag, on wetlands management, and we need to reverse a lot of that and change it into a new paradigm in a quarter or, you know, the eighth of the time. And so this time is definitely our biggest enemy. And so I, I couldn’t agree more with what, what Director Wagner is saying in terms of making sure that we are quickly moving forward on the types of projects both on the na natural side and on the energy infrastructure side that are gonna get us out of this deficit on climate that we’ve got ourselves into.

Paul Mason (41:54):

And I, I think the biggest challenge in front of us is just how to move faster across, frankly, all of our climate change, um, components, but particularly for us and this national working lands both on the ground and the things that help us scale on the ground. So I’m being told we have to wrap it up. I really wanna thank our panelists. This was a, a great discussion. That was just twice as long. All right, thanks everybody.