Smoke from fires in the Brazilian rainforest in August. NASA photo

California’s air-quality regulators voted 7-4 Thursday to approve a controversial plan for protecting the Amazon rainforests, drawing a dissent by two San Diego representatives.

“I am gravely concerned about the loss of our tropical forests and the resulting impact on global greenhouse gas emissions. However, I am not convinced that the economic assumptions behind the Tropical Forest Standard will yield actual results,” said County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher.

Fletcher was joined in his dissenting vote at the meeting of the California Air Resources Board in Sacramento by Diane Takvorian, executive director and co-founder of Environmental Health Coalition in San Diego.

The complicated standard, more that a decade in the making, would govern the use of carbon-offset credits to help pay for programs that protect the rainforests.

Fletcher said he had “very real concerns” with verification and the impact on indigenous people. He cited Assembly Bill 572, which was considered this year but not passed, as a better alternative.

But board chair Mary D. Nichols said California’s adoption of the standard would encourage other jurisdictions to take immediate action.

“It will improve the livelihoods of those who live and work in tropical forests. And it motivates responsible investment into better forest management in a way that is more protective of indigenous rights than anything that currently exists,” she said.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.