Environment

California’s natural beauty and abundant resources must be preserved for future generations, while being managed in a way that enables stable growth and a prosperous society.

The California National Party recognizes that climate change is the greatest challenge to have ever faced humanity. Minimizing its impacts and mitigating those effects we cannot avoid will require substantial changes to the way we live, work, and do business. California is uniquely positioned to be a global leader in this space and our public policies will reflect this. These adjustments to our lifestyle will not always be easy, but they are needed to avoid an ecological apocalypse in our lifetimes.

As a general statement of our commitment to sustainability, we believe that all activities with potential public health consequences should be guided by the principle of the least toxic alternative, which presumes that toxic substances will not be used as long as there is another way of accomplishing the task.

Climate

Reducing the carbon footprint of every household, factory, and farm is the most important and most difficult task before us. To minimize climate-related natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and wildfires, we must rethink the way we live, work, and travel. With this as our organizing principle we advocate for the following policies:

  • California Carbon Market: The cap-and-trade system instituted by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) in 2013 should continue to expand, and the governor should actively seek to enroll additional domestic and international partners. The true cost to the environment of consuming fossil fuels has been externalized for far too long, and there is widespread agreement that cap-and-trade is the simplest usable mechanism for pricing these emissions.
  • Sea level rise: By the year 2100, the midrange prediction for sea level rise is 36 inches. If these predictions hold the San Francisco Ferry Building will flood twice daily at high tide, and large sections of the Bay Area could flood dozens of times each year. To address this risk, a new seawall will be constructed at or near the Golden Gate Bridge.
  • C40: California cities will be encouraged to join the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, an international network of cities that seeks to ‘collaborate effectively, share knowledge and drive meaningful, measurable and sustainable action on climate change.’
  • Transportation:  Transportation is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.  See our Infrastructure Plank for our ideas on evolving California’s systems.

Water

With more than 800 miles of Pacific Coast, California has a unique role to play in the protection of marine resources. As this is a shared resource susceptible to exploitation, we should seek to reinforce the long-lasting peaceful alliances with our Pacific neighbors, to ensure continued viability of the ocean as a rich source of food, as well as its inherent integrity as a biome. In particular the following policies are suggested:

  • Offshore drilling: We support a permanent moratorium on the extraction of fossil fuels from the seabed, both to avoid short-term damage to the environment and as part of our move towards a post-hydrocarbon energy system.
  • Great Garbage Patch: There is a gigantic swirling morass of plastic trash in the North Pacific. To address this, California should mandate the development and use of biodegradable plastics. As well, consumer products that make a significant contribution to this problem, such as microplastics in facial scrubs, should be regulated in a manner that recognizes and seeks to minimize their long-term damage to the environment.
  • Marine mammals: Whales, dolphins, seals and porpoises provide essential ecosystem services in terms of nutrient cycling and maintenance of the species balance. Sadly, many of these populations are at risk due to degradation of their habitat and overfishing of their prey. To ensure their indefinite survival, practices that endanger these animals, such as indiscriminate commercial fishing and the use of low-frequency sonar, will be heavily regulated. On land and at sea, to provide an adequate food source for orcas, viable wild salmon populations will be favored, within reason, at the expense of economic interests.
  • Public Beach Access: In accordance with California precedent established by the Spanish and dating back to Roman times, the portion of the land covered by the sea at high tide will be held in trust by the state for the benefit, use, and enjoyment of the public.

California’s river systems must also be well managed to ensure sustainable use for irrigators, wildlife, and other consumers of water. Towards this end we encourage the removal of obsolete dams, close monitoring of water quality, and an ongoing dialogue with industrial, residential, and agricultural consumers so that riparian systems can continue to function with biological integrity while continuing to meet the needs of California’s human population.

Agriculture

California is a unique contributor to agriculture in North America and around the world due to the high quality and wide variety of crops grown here, in particular fruits and nuts. Many of these crops, especially wine grapes, are highly sensitive to small changes in environment and could be devastated by climate change. Modern farming is an energy and labor intensive exercise, and California should continue to lead the way in developing sensible regulations to protect farms, farm workers, and the environment. Specifically:

  • Integration with the Carbon Market: The impact of land management techniques such as no-till, low-till, crop rotation and the use of cover crops will be evaluated in terms of greenhouse gas emission or absorption, so that practices that incorporate atmospheric CO2 back into the soil will be rewarded, and taxes levied against practices that do not.
  • Nutrient bookkeeping: The legislature will draft regulations requiring farms to demonstrate they are not polluting surface waters through application of excess fertilizer.
  • Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) labeling: While transgenic foods are recognized as safe by the vast majority of scientists, many people strongly object to their consumption. Therefore we propose a system of voluntary labelling where producers may include a GMO-free marking on their products, with compliance to be overseen by a third party such as the Non-GMO Project.
  • Breeder’s Rights and Farmer’s Privilege: In recognition that our food supply is increasingly controlled by a small group of large corporations, CNP supports the rights of small seed companies and individual farmers to develop plant varieties that are well-suited to their local conditions and market demands. California should continue to regulate this field in a manner consistent with the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants. In particular, the legislature should exercise the optional clause found in Article 15.2, which protects the ability of breeders to profit from their development of new varieties, and also enables a signatory to “restrict the breeder’s right in relation to any variety in order to permit farmers to use for propagating purposes, on their own holdings, the product of the harvest which they have obtained by planting, on their own holdings.”

Conservation

California is a biologically diverse place with many rare and endemic species, due to our wide variety of micro-climates, topography, and natural barriers to migration. The California National Party believes that preserving our biodiversity is important not only from an ethical and aesthetic perspective but also for ecological, economic and medicinal reasons. We believe that it is possible to harmonize human activity with conservation, resulting in thriving human communities within thriving natural ecosystems, and so we call on California’s lawmakers to do the following:

  • Incorporate into environmental policy the economic value of ecosystem services such as pollination, flood control, carbon sequestration and the natural control of pest species.
  • Begin proceedings to turn over all federal lands in California to the government of California. The federal government has failed in their duty to protect and preserve our wild spaces, and our domestic park service could do a far better job without their interference.
  • Preserve and expand public lands in response to climate change, while allowing for sustainable development.
  • Continue to responsibly regulate the harvest of wildlife both on land and at sea.
  • Provide financial incentives for the preservation of habitat on private lands, as Brazil has done to protect primary forests.
  • Support ongoing research to detect and eradicate invasive species before they become a threat to native ecosystems.
  • Place an immediate and permanent ban on fracking within California. Fracking encourages dependency on fossil fuel technology, endangers our water supply, and causes earthquakes.

Healthy forests are essential for healthy streams and water systems, which in turn support our fisheries. They also provide critical carbon sequestration and habitat for endangered species, and California’s wild places draw millions of tourists every year. To protect and preserve them for the indefinite future, we advocate that:

  • California end clear-cutting, strip mining, and the privatization of public lands so that public resources are available for the public.
  • We should mimic Germany’s approach to forest management which relies on selective logging to reduce fire risk, instead of cutting down entire sections of forest and replanting with monoculture.

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