Capitol Alert

AM Alert: Western governors, California officials discuss drought

In this photo taken Sept. 17, 2014, house boats are docked in the low water at Lake Shasta's Bay Bridge resort near Redding, Calif.
In this photo taken Sept. 17, 2014, house boats are docked in the low water at Lake Shasta's Bay Bridge resort near Redding, Calif. AP

For elected officials in the western United States, few issues carry as much urgency these days as the repercussions of land-parching droughts. Concerns about draining aquifers, for instance, this year led California to join other Western states in regulating groundwater pumping.

Today, the drought will bring together the leaders of several states suffering from water scarcity. Gov. Jerry Brown and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval will open a forum on how drought is affecting agriculture with remarks in the governor’s office this morning.

Sponsored by the Western Governors’ Association, the two-day forum will focus on how the drought is hitting the agriculture industry (one of the key arguments for the recently approved water bond, which major agricultural organizations supported). Other scheduled speakers include California Department of Water Resources Director Mark Cowin, California Natural Resources Agency Secretary John Laird, California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross and California Department of Fish and Wildlife chief Charlton “Chuck” Bonham.

BURNING TOPIC: With frequent blazes burning through California’s firefighting budget during one of the worst fire years in recent history, officials like Brown have linked the increase to climate change. Today you can hear from an expert what the future holds. LeRoy Westerling, an associate professor of environmental engineering and geography at the University of California, Merced will be discussing the connections between forest fires and climate change during a noon talk sponsored by the University of California Center Sacramento. At 1130 K Street.

FOSTERING AWARENESS: As they have for years, advocates will be reading out the names of foster children awaiting adoption on the North steps today. Joining them will be outgoing Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, and California Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Diana Dooley.

CARBONATION: Already facing some ambitious carbon-reduction goals, California could see a political push to alter benchmarks for clearing the air by 2020 and beyond. The California Air Resources Board will hold a hearing today on some proposed changes to the state’s low carbon fuel standard, which aims to reduce the emissions generated by burning fuels. The daylong event will be at the Cal/EPA Headquarters Building on I street.

CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to Sen. Andy Vidak, R-Hanford, who can celebrate both holding onto a contested Senate seat and his 49th birthday.

Call Jeremy B. White, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 326-5543.