Media Statement: Newsom Administration’s Executive Order on Biodiversity and Climate a Significant Step Forward

By October 8, 2020Advocacy, News, News & Info

Sacramento, Calif.The following statement was released today by Jim Peifer, Executive Director of the Regional Water Authority, and Tom Gohring, Executive Director of the Water Forum, in response to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Executive Order enlisting California’s vast network of natural and working lands – forests, rangelands, farms, wetlands, coast, deserts and urban greenspaces – in the fight against climate change. 

“We appreciate the Governor’s continued and necessary leadership on climate change. Much of climate change policy to date has focused on ways to mitigate the impacts of climate change through strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This Executive Order (EO) compliments those policies by placing greater emphasis on and charting a path toward enhanced adaptation efforts. The EO will energize work to not just reduce the risk of flood, fire, drought, and environmental degradation from occurring, but also bring greater urgency to developing resiliency to those threats.

“As water resource and environmental managers in the Sacramento region, we know that climate change is projected to have far-reaching impacts on our water supplies and environment. In fact, results of a new localized climate study in our region indicate temperature increases of 5 degrees to 6 degrees by 2070. If unaddressed, those changes will dramatically reduce our watershed’s ability to withstand the greater volatility in droughts, floods, and fires projected and make it harder to move past the false choice between meeting water supply needs and maintaining a healthy ecosystem.

“This region has a multipronged approach that includes our entire watershed—from our headwaters forests in the Sierra to our urban core—which will allow us to adapt. The Governor’s multi-benefit, voluntary and cooperative approach laid out in his EO is the appropriate path, and we appreciate his desire for inclusive partnerships and collaboration among federal, state and local governments, which we know can yield significant benefits. Our experience locally has taught us that this kind of approach produces better outcomes faster. It allows us to work together to design solutions that meet all, not just some, of our needs. We’ve seen this approach produce success in addressing fire risk in our upper watershed and improving conditions for iconic fish species in our lower watershed.

“But, we have much more to do if we are going to meet all the challenges that climate change poses. This Executive Order, in combination with the Governor’s Water Resilience Portfolio, is a significant step forward, but we will need to expand our collaborations and partnerships if we are going to reach our goals. We look forward to working with the Newsom Administration as the EO moves forward and follow the Governor’s leadership toward a future that has us prepared for the impacts of climate change.”

The Regional Water Authority (RWA) is a joint powers authority representing 20 water providers serving 2 million people in the greater Sacramento region. Formed in 2001, its primary mission is to help its members protect and enhance the reliability, availability, affordability and quality of water resources. Learn more at rwah2o.org.

The Sacramento Water Forum is a diverse group of business and agricultural leaders, citizen groups, environmentalists, water managers and local governments working together to balance two co-equal objectives: to provide a reliable and safe water supply for the Sacramento region’s long-term growth and economic health; and to preserve the fishery, wildlife, recreational, and aesthetic values of the lower American River. Learn more at waterforum.org.