California governor vetoes tropical deforestation bill
LOS ANGELES (AP) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday vetoed a bill that would have required businesses selling certain products to the state to prove they’re not contributing to tropical deforestation.
Environmental advocates had hoped Newsom would make California the first state to limit contracts to businesses that can prove their supply chains don’t engage in the destruction of tropical forests, which is a major contributor to global climate change.
But in a veto message to the state Legislature, Newsom said he rejected the legislation because it would harm small businesses.
“Deforestation is a major contributor to the climate crisis that California and the world is facing right now,” Newsom wrote. “Unfortunately, this bill’s extensive requirements would create a significant burden on California businesses — particularly small businesses — that are looking to participate in state contracts.”
Newsom said under the bill, every time the state bought something that contained soy, the vendor would have been required to disclose where the soybeans were grown, who the farmer was and where they were processed.
“Most small business suppliers do not have access to that information,” Newsom said.
The bill authored by Democratic Assemblyman Ash Kalra and backed by numerous environmental groups aimed to ensure that California isn’t contributing to deforestation through its contracts for goods and services. Proponents said the goal was to protect tropical forests that provide critical habitat to animal species, and in doing so, help mitigate climate change.
“If you don’t know who you are getting it from, guess what? It is probably coming from where they burned down the Amazon and they’re pulling it out cheap,” said Judie Mancuso, founder and chief executive of Social Compassion in Legislation, one of the bill’s sponsors. “As long as you close your eyes to where that supply is coming from, we will continue to rape and pillage this Earth until there’s nothing left.”
The American Forest & Paper Association opposed the bill, saying it would be “practically impossible” for manufacturers to determine the origin of recycled content.