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AB-1431 Forestry: forest carbon plan: state goals.(2021-2022)

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Date Published: 02/19/2021 09:00 PM
AB1431:v99#DOCUMENT


CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2021–2022 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill
No. 1431


Introduced by Assembly Member Frazier

February 19, 2021


An act to add Article 7.9 (commencing with Section 4599) to Chapter 8 of Part 2 of Division 4 of the Public Resources Code, relating to forestry.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 1431, as introduced, Frazier. Forestry: forest carbon plan: state goals.
Existing law requires the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to implement various fire protection programs intended to protect forest resources and prevent uncontrolled wildfires.
This bill would establish state goals for fuel treatment and vegetation management, as specified. The bill would require the Natural Resources Agency and the California Environmental Protection Agency, on or before January 1, 2023, to submit a report to the appropriate policy and budget committees of the Legislature on the positions and resources needed to achieve those state goals. The bill would require the Natural Resources Agency and the California Environmental Protection Agency, on or before January 1, 2023, and annually thereafter, to submit to those legislative committees a report on the progress made to achieve those state goals.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) Wildfires have grown larger and increased in intensity and destructiveness over the last several decades. Forest fires have increased from an average of about 60,000 acres annually between the 1950s and 1990s to 175,000 acres annually in the 2000s and over 1,000,000 acres annually this decade. These high-intensity wildfires are far more damaging than the low-intensity wildfires that historically played an important role in the forest ecosystem.
(b) Since 2017, California’s wildfires have caused 186 deaths and destroyed over 45,000 structures, including much of the Town of Paradise in 2018.
(c) Wildfires result in significant emissions of greenhouse gases and jeopardize the state’s ability to achieve its climate change goals. In 2020, California’s wildfires have burned over 4,000,000 acres and released over 90,000,000 metric tons of emissions of greenhouse gases, according to preliminary estimates. That is more than all emissions of greenhouse gases from industrial sources in 2018, well over half of emissions of greenhouse gases from the entire transportation sector, more than double all emissions of greenhouse gases from the commercial and residential sectors, and nearly three times the emissions of greenhouse gases from agriculture. The 2020 wildfires also caused widespread hazardous air quality for extended periods of time.
(d) Vegetation management and fuels treatment strategies, including prescribed fire, mechanical thinning, and woody biomass utilization, have been deemed by numerous forest and climate scientists to reduce and avoid greenhouse gas emissions associated with high-severity wildfires.
(e) In May of 2018, a broad representation of local, state, and federal agencies finalized the California Forest Carbon Plan, a comprehensive strategy to restore the resilience of California’s forests, forested watersheds, and wildlands while reducing the impacts of climate change and criteria pollutants from catastrophic wildfires.
(f) The strategies outlined in the California Forest Carbon Plan have yet to be adequately implemented due to funding and workforce challenges, and general lack of urgency to address California’s significant forest and wildland management deficiencies.
(g) The California Forest Carbon Plan, while currently providing a theoretical roadmap to reducing the state’s wildfire risk and forest carbon emissions through both active avoidance of emissions of greenhouse gases and carbon sequestration, is not binding and therefore not as effective as it should be for meeting California’s greenhouse gases emissions reductions goals.
(h) The codification of the goals outlined in the California Forest Carbon Plan pursuant to this act will elevate the importance of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and criteria pollutants from the forest and wildland sector commensurate with the urgency of achieving those goals.

SEC. 2.

 Article 7.9 (commencing with Section 4599) is added to Chapter 8 of Part 2 of Division 4 of the Public Resources Code, to read:
Article  7.9. California Forest Carbon Plan Goals

4599.
 (a) Building upon the objectives outlined in the “California Forest Carbon Plan: Managing Our Forest Landscapes in a Changing Climate” released by the Forest Climate Action Team in May of 2018, the Legislature hereby establishes as state goals for fuel treatment and vegetation management all of the following:
(1) Increase forest restoration and fuels treatment from 17,500 acres to 60,000 acres per year by 2030.
(2) Increase the area reforested annually by 25 percent above 2018 levels.
(3) Increase vegetation management to 500,000 acres per year on nonfederal lands.
(4) Urge the federal government to achieve similar treatment levels on federal lands.
(5) Expand wood products manufacturing in the state.
(6) Increase carbon storage through increased use of durable wood products in buildings.
(7) Streamline the planning and permitting for forest restoration and forest health projects.
(8) Reduce small landowners’ financial barriers to land management.
(9) Increase by 10 percent the acreage of forest land protected by conservation easements that include specific management objectives to maintain and improve forest health and reduce the risk of wildfire through the promotion of a more natural tree density, to make improvements that increase the land’s ability to increase carbon sequestration, and to provide for the retention of larger trees and growth of larger trees over time. Conservation easements shall focus on areas that can effectively sequester and store resilient carbon while providing wildlife habitat, protecting watershed values, and supporting other forest ecosystem benefits.
(b) (1) (A) On or before January 1, 2023, the Natural Resources Agency and the California Environmental Protection Agency shall submit a report to the appropriate policy and budget committees of the Legislature on the positions and resources needed to achieve the goals described in subdivision (a).
(B) Pursuant to Section 10231.5 of the Government Code, the requirement for submitting a report under this paragraph shall become inoperative on January 1, 2027.
(2) Notwithstanding Section 10231.5 of the Government Code, on or before January 1, 2023, and annually thereafter, the Natural Resources Agency and the California Environmental Protection Agency shall submit a report to the appropriate policy and budget committees of the Legislature on progress made towards achieving the goals described in subdivision (a).