Since the adoption of the Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32), the California Rice Commission (CRC) has been working with the California Air Resources Board (ARB) and the Environmental Defense Fund to develop a voluntary program for qualifying rice growers to generate air quality credits known as greenhouse gas (GHG) offsets. These are units of GHG emission reductions that can be made available for purchase by other industries more directly affected by the state’s GHG regulations and, therefore, need these offsets for regulatory compliance needs.
The ARB plans to consider final adoption of this new rice protocol in 2015, with its first hearing in mid-December 2014. As proposed, the program would allow credit for “early action” by growers who implemented qualifying practices anytime from 2006 to 2014, provided their past activities are recorded by an accredited GHG registry by the end of 2014. We have just sent a letter to our growers to inform them of this timely issue.
Passage of this rice protocol enables the California rice industry to help the state meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals though a sensible, market-based program that preserves our positive environmental contributions. For example, even though our winter flooding activities result in modest methane emissions, the ARB’s proposal purposely avoids impacting this practice to preserve important wildlife habitat. We appreciate the ARB recognizing these valuable benefits and considering a voluntary strategy for reducing GHG emissions through targeted practices that carefully avoid impacting our industry’s significant contributions to the millions of waterbirds and other wetland-dependent species of wildlife now reliant upon California rice fields here in the Pacific Flyway.