More Support for Agriculture in Cap and Trade Bill

Several groups offer suggestions to increase role of agriculture.

In a written editorial, House Agriculture Ranking Member Frank Lucas, R-Okla., has addressed H.R. 2454, the Waxman-Markey bill, emphasizing the devastating economic impact this legislation will have on production agriculture and rural economies.

 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has set a June 19 deadline for movement on the bill, which won't give other committees such as Agriculture or Ways and Means much time to review and markup the bill. Lucas stressed how important it is for Congress to allow the legislative process to work by holding hearings and having a markup.

 

Although agriculture will be significantly impacted by this legislation, Lucas pointed out this bill largely ignores farmers and ranchers, and fails to specifically recognize the role agriculture can play in providing carbon offsets.

 

Worldwatch Institute has co-published a report that shows agricultural practices are the only innovations available today to sequester greenhouse gases that are already in the atmosphere by pulling in carbon dioxide through photosynthesis to grow and sustain more plants. The report says  mobilizing agricultural carbon sequestration is an essential tool in the effort to reduce the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases to the 350 parts-per-million level that many scientists argue we must achieve to stem climate change.

 

The 25x'25 Alliance has issued a list of proposed amendments to the legislation that the organization said are needed to maximize the benefits that agriculture and forestry can provide in the cap-and-trade program outlined in the measure.

 

At the National Press Club Friday morning, 25x'25 Carbon Work Group Chairman Nathan Rudgers said the program must have domestic offsets with identical characteristics and risks and sequestration offsets must be for a contracted duration, with a suggested "permanence" of fifty years. Rudgers also said USDA should be the lead agency to assume responsibility for the majority of farm and forestry offset functions.

The 25x'25 Alliance says it is critical that the current legislation be amended to provide the kind of necessary detail that will insure the viability of the cap and trade system's offset components and provide a program that can deliver significant near-term biological sequestration and greenhouse gas reduction services.

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