California Governor Newsom fails to pass the Deforestation Free Procurement act

The Governor’s rejection of the bill enables the state’s continued involvement in tropical forest destruction

Sacramento, California — Amidst ongoing wildfires, California Governor Gavin Newsom today vetoed the California Deforestation Free Procurement Act (AB-416) – a bill that would have leveraged California’s enormous purchasing power to halt the destruction of tropical forests, a leading cause of global climate change. After riding a wave of victory through both chambers of the state legislature, including a win of 30-8 in the senate, Governor Newsom vetoed the bill.

In his veto message, Governor Newson stated, “Deforestation is a major contributor to the climate crisis that California and the world is facing right now. I share the author’s commitment to preventing tropical deforestation. Unfortunately, this bill’s…requirements would create a significant burden on California businesses – particularly small businesses – that are looking to participate in state contracts…For these reasons I cannot sign this bill; however, I remain committed to working with the author to advance our shared environmental goals and will consider future legislation that better targets those supply chains that directly impact tropical deforestation.”

Governor Newsom’s veto announcement comes the same day as the unveiling of a federal bill to ban imports of products linked to deforestation, and which shares several key features with the California bill. AB 416 would have required that state contracts for the purchase of products containing so-called “forest-risk” commodities — including palm oil, paper pulp, timber, rubber, cattle and soybeans – provide robust assurances that they are not linked to tropical deforestation.

“We are extremely disappointed that Governor Newsom did not see fit to sign AB416 into law. This was California’s second chance to take an unprecedented step towards halting deforestation and associated human rights abuses across the tropics,” said Jeff Conant, Senior International Forests Program Manager with Friends of the Earth, a key sponsor of the bill. “We are convinced that, with political will, the state could develop an implementation path to ease compliance by affected small businesses. By letting this ground-breaking law die on the vine, Governor Newsom continues to let multinational corporations off the hook for driving the deforestation, biodiversity and climate crisis.”

AB416 would have required that companies selling products addressed by the law certify that their production has not contributed to tropical deforestation, or risk losing contracts with the State of California. The bill is part of a suite of regulatory initiatives underway globally intended to curb tropical deforestation, including efforts in France, Norway and the EU, as well as bipartisan federal legislation to be introduced this week by Senators Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) and Representatives Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Fitzpatrick (R-Penn.)

“After three years of working on this policy, with all the hearings, all the votes, all the stakeholder meetings, to get this monumental bill to the Governor’s desk only to be vetoed because of a deliberately obtuse recommendation from his staff, which is reflected in the veto message, is a prime example of bureaucratic paralysis,” said Judie Mancuso, Founder and CEO of Social Compassion in Legislation, a cosponsor of the bill. “The Administration talks a big game on climate, but this veto illustrates their inability to walk the walk on the biggest, most pressing issue of our time.”

Press contact: Kerry Skiff, 202-222-0723, [email protected]

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