CalEPA Secretary Jared Blumenfeld is resisting calls from environmental justice groups to factor pesticide emissions into California’s AB 32 Climate Scoping Plan.

“We don't have evidence that pesticides are an important source of [greenhouse gas] emissions,” said Blumenfeld. “We must continue to focus the scoping plan on its purpose, charting our path to carbon neutrality and assessing our progress towards our 2030 goals.”

He testified in an Air Resources Board (CARB) hearing covering new climate modeling scenarios that may be included in the plan and agreed with the groups that more research is needed on the issue, noting that the agency’s departments are working on that.

This drew criticism from board member John Balmes, who has long advocated for CARB to take an active role in regulating pesticides. He argued that—despite the lack of data on emissions—the state must “transform agriculture” to slash the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers to protect low-income communities of color near agricultural lands.

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“It's a huge transformation that is needed,” warned Balmes.

Modeling for the scoping plan does consider converting 30% of California agriculture to organic by 2045. CARB’s Environmental Justice Advisory Committee recommends setting that as a 2030 goal while reducing the use of “hazardous pesticides” by 75% within the same timeframe.

Meanwhile, the governor’s research office has brought CDFA into its climate adaptation program. This will help to coordinate the administration’s response to climate impacts on agriculture.

Virginia Jameson, the CDFA deputy secretary for climate and working lands, will take part in a technical advisory council for the program.