Platform on the Environment
California’s natural beauty and wealth of resources are well known throughout the world. Few places possess our geographic and ecological diversity. It is the responsibility of all Californians to preserve our home for future generations while managing what we have in a way that enables stable growth and a prosperous society. To accomplish this, the California National Party (CNP) supports policies that emphasize sustainability and waste reduction at all levels of production, transportation, distribution, and consumption. Activities with potential public health consequences and environmental impact 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. As much as possible, California should seek to develop a circular economic model, which emphasizes the elimination of waste, and the reuse of resources.
Humanity presently faces an environmental crisis on a global scale. Rising sea levels and coastal erosion, extreme weather events, and extended periods of drought as a result of climate change affect the lives of all Californians. Historically, California has been a leader in developing policies to address this crucial issue, but too often we face resistance from a United States government that frequently refuses to accept the magnitude and gravity of this existential threat. To produce policies that can be respected and imitated, to implement ideas learned from the experience of other nations, and to be an honest and respected member of international climate agreements, California must have the freedom to shape our own environmental agenda.
The CNP recognizes climate change as the greatest challenge ever faced by humanity. Minimizing the impacts and mitigating the worst effects of climate change require substantial changes to our culture and society. California is uniquely positioned, and a global leader in the environmental realm. Our public policies will reflect an awareness of climate change and the need for a sustainable existence. Adjustments to our lifestyle will not always be easy or cheap, but our collective progress is essential to avoid an ecological apocalypse in our lifetimes.
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:
- 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.
- We support the establishment of a committee to undertake thorough and accurate studies of the feasibility, benefits, and consequences of ways to mitigate impending effects of sea-level rise with regard to people, property, and ecosystems. This is crucial for communities on the Pacific Coast, as well as along rivers, such as the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. These studies shall include a thorough review of the feasibility of many possible options, including managed retreat from coastlines, seawall construction to combat coastal erosion, and a lock system near the Golden Gate.
- 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.’
- Encourage progress toward reducing the carbon footprint for all new buildings with a focus on prefabricated buildings and use of natural materials to reduce the carbon footprint of construction
- Corporations and manufacturers should be held responsible for the environmental impacts of their products, taking into account their entire lifecycle, from production, packaging, transportation, all the way to disposal and decomposition. California must implement a system whereby companies bear the full price of environmental costs. We will also seek to establish a circular economy with the goal of zero waste by 2050.
- Property tax deductions and other incentives will be enhanced for owners who add solar energy generation to their properties.
- Commit California to run on 100% renewable energy by 2040 though greater use of decentralized solar generation, geothermal, tidal wave, and more efficient energy storage.
- Reduce the environmental impact of transportation as a contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, as laid out in our Housing and Infrastructure Plank.
With more than 800 miles of Pacific Coast, California has a unique role to play in the protection of marine resources. The ocean and the coast are crucial for our economic development and environmental concerns. Balancing these will be an ongoing issue for any future government, as will the question of who should have access to the coastline. As this is a shared resource susceptible to exploitation, California will seek to reinforce the long-lasting peaceful alliances with our Pacific neighbors, to ensure the continued viability of the ocean as a rich source of food, as well as its inherent integrity as a biome. In particular, the CNP supports undertaking the following policies:
- 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-petroleum energy system.
- There is a huge artificial island made of plastic trash in the North Pacific. To address this, California should mandate the development and use of biodegradable plastics. 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.
- 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 the degradation of their habitat and overfishing of their prey. To ensure their survival, practices that endanger these animals, such as indiscriminate commercial fishing and the use of low-frequency sonar, should 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.
- 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. This will ensure that all citizens have reasonable access to coastal areas by prohibiting the fencing in of private beaches.
- Encourage greywater systems to help reduce the amount of water used by businesses and households.
- Create a commission that will study how to replenish groundwater sources across California.
- Management of California’s rivers must 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 to appropriately balance use and preservation.
- Strengthen and expand protected coastal areas, fisheries, and protected species while incentivizing non-polluting innovation of sustainable aquaculture industries.
Agriculture is a nearly $50 billion industry in California, the largest in the United States. We are 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 the environment and could be devastated by climate change. Modern, large-scale farming is an energy and labor-intensive exercise, and California should continue to lead the way in developing sensible regulations to protect farms, farmworkers, and the environment. Specifically:
- California’s great diversity of climates, soils, and growing seasons gives us a unique opportunity to emphasize smaller-scale, locally-based agriculture which minimizes the energy usage, ecological footprint, and supply chains necessary to feed Californians. Such sustainable, preferably regenerative, practices that respect our soil and water make possible future generations of California farmers.
- 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, incentivizing practices that incorporate atmospheric CO₂ back into the soil.
- Support nutrient bookkeeping regulations requiring farms to demonstrate they are not polluting surface waters through the application of excess fertilizer.
- While transgenic foods are recognized as safe by the vast majority of scientists, many people strongly object to their consumption. Therefore we support a system of labeling where GMO products are labeled in order to facilitate informed consumer choices regarding the food we eat.
- In recognition that our food supply is increasingly controlled by a small group of large corporations, the rights of small seed companies and individual farmers to develop plant varieties that are well-suited to their local conditions and market demands must be protected. California should continue to regulate this field in a manner consistent with the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants.
- Ban neonicotinoids and other bee-killing insecticides to save bee populations and slow insect die-offs which have caused insect populations to fall by 75% of their biomass over the last three decades.
California is a biologically diverse place with many rare and endemic species, due to our topography, the wide variety of micro-climates, and natural barriers to migration. The CNP 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 benefits 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.
- Responsibly regulate the harvest of wildlife both on land and at sea.
- Provide financial incentives for the preservation of habitat on private lands
- Support ongoing research to detect and eradicate invasive species before they become a threat and support local communities in their efforts to combat invasive plants and animals that harm the 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.
In particular, 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 should end clear-cutting, strip mining, and the privatization of public lands so that public resources are available for the public.
- Forest management system which relies on selective logging to reduce fire risk, instead of cutting down entire sections of forest and replanting with monoculture.