Release 95-6

Contacts: Jerry Martin/Allan Hirsch                                                               March 24, 1995
(916) 322-2990

For Immediate Release


        Responding to the increasing hardship on Sacramento Valley rice growers from adverse weather, the Air Resources Board, in concert with the Department of Food and Agriculture, today issued a joint executive order to increase opportunities to burn rice straw in the aftermath of the late winter storms of 1995. "This action further implements Governor Pete Wilson's direction of March 18 to loosen restrictions on agriculture burn days to allow farmers more flexibility in disposing of flood debris," said John D. Dunlap, III, Chairman of the California Air Resources Board.

        Under the extraordinary circumstances created by the severe flooding in the Sacramento Valley this winter and the extremely wet conditions which have prevented spring burning to date, and which have made alternatives to burning infeasible, the Air Resources Board determined that the allowable rice acreage for burning during the year ending September 1, 1995 may be increased beyond the 70% authorized by the Connelly-Areias-Chandler Rice Straw Burning Reduction Act of 1991. That Act, which requires a phase down in the number of acres of rice straw that may be burned starting in 1992, limits rice straw burning in the Sacramento Valley Air Basin to 70% of the total number of rice acres planted prior to September 1, 1994.

        "All burning of excess acreage under the order, as well as the usual spring burning of agriculture acreage scheduled for burning in the Sacramento Valley, will be carried out in accordance with ARB guidelines, and district rules and regulations," said James D. Boyd, ARB's Executive Officer, who signed the order on behalf of the Board. The Air Resources Board utilizes atmospheric models and meteorological analyses to advise districts on the timing and amounts of acreage that may be burned without unduly risking smoke incidents in populated areas.