via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.
Farm groups send letter to House leaders
detailing ag sector priorities
This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction
or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Tuesday met with the chairmen of the
House Ways and Means and Agriculture panels to discuss the climate change
legislation which she wants acted on by the end of this year. Pelosi during
a news event said she met Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson
(D-Minn.) and Charley Rangel (D-N.Y.), chairman Ways and Means Committee.
Peterson last month announced opposition to the climate measure
with a spirited and lengthy tirade against several recent developments,
including what he termed mistrust of federal regulators to treat corn-based
ethanol on an equal footing.
Pelosi said did not provide deadlines to the chairmen
for marking up the legislation, but acknowledged she is “optimistic
that we will be able to move forward in a timely fashion so that legislation
will pass the House and Senate” before December, when international
negotiators head to Copenhagen regarding a new global climate change
Timeline: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.)
previously said he would like to see the bill on the floor in late June
or early July, leaving time to deal with health care reform before the
August recess. Rangel wants to have a markup in his committee, but only
after health care legislation is finished.
Peterson said Pelosi made clear her desire to see the energy
bill move quickly, and he detailed his concerns about the bill,
adding that he had a meeting planned with Energy and Commerce Chairman
Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) on Tuesday.
“They seem like they want to work with us,” Peterson
said. “We’ll talk and we’ll see.” The House
Energy and Commerce Committee via a 33-25 vote on May 21 approved
the climate and energy package.
The energy committee released an updated
summary of the bill reflecting
changes made during the weeklong markup in May. Key provisions in the
-- Require electric utilities to meet 20 percent of their electricity
demand through renewable energy sources and energy efficiency by 2020.
-- Invest in new clean energy technologies and energy efficiency, including
energy efficiency and renewable energy ($90 billion in new investments
by 2025), carbon capture and sequestration ($60 billion), electric and
other advanced technology vehicles ($20 billion), and basic scientific
research and development ($20 billion).
-- Mandate new energy-saving standards for buildings, appliances, and
-- Reduce carbon emissions from major U.S. sources by 17 percent by
2020 and over 80 percent by 2050 compared to 2005 levels. Complementary
measures in the legislation, such as investments in preventing tropical
deforestation, will achieve significant additional reductions in carbon
-- Protect consumers from energy price increases. According to estimates
from the Environmental Protection Agency, the reductions in carbon pollution
required by the legislation will cost American families "less than
a postage stamp per day."
Pelosi said the Agriculture and Ways and
Means panels are the “two main committees” that will consider
the legislation, but another six committees have jurisdiction
over sections of the bill (HR 2454): Foreign Affairs, Financial Services,
Education and Labor, Science and Technology, Transportation and Infrastructure,
and Natural Resources.
Ways and Means will focus on language that raises
and distributes revenue, including how money raised by auctioning emissions
allowances could be used to protect low- and middle-income consumers,
and provisions to protect trade-sensitive industries.
The Agriculture Committee will likely focus on determining
how some of the carbon market financial instruments that would be established
by the legislation would be overseen, possibly by the Commodity Futures
Trading Commission, which is under the committee's jurisdiction. Ag
panel members also want to ensure the agriculture sector gains access
to carbon offset projects. (See the next item on what some farm groups
want via the legislation.)
Farm groups want unlimited ag offsets via
climate change bill. Farm groups on Tuesday called for
unlimited emissions offsets generated from agriculture and forestry be
part of energy and climate change legislation. The request came via a
letter from the National Farmers Union and five other organizations to
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Majority Leader Steny
Background: As approved by the House Energy and Commerce
Committee on May 21, the American Clean Energy and Security Act (HR
2454) would create a national emissions cap-and-trade system, but would
allow sources to buy limited offsets instead of cutting actual greenhouse
gas emissions. The bill would allow sources to offset up to 2 billion
tons of greenhouse gas emissions, half of which would be required to
be come from domestic sources.
Examples of activities that could generate offsets via the agriculture
sector could include planting trees, preserving existing forests,
no-till farming to prevent soil erosion, and methane generation using
The farm coalition called for USDA and not the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) to be given the lead role in administering
agricultural offsets. Under the Waxman-Markey bill, EPA would be in
charge of the offsets.
Groups signing the letter to Pelosi and Hoyer were
the National Farmers Union, American Farmland Trust, National Corn Growers
Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Milk Producers
Federation, and the International Biochar Initiative.
The organizations detailed several priorities
for consideration, including:
-- USDA being granted control and administration of the agricultural
and forestry offset program;
-- “Early actors” being fully recognized;
-- No artificial caps placed on domestic offsets;
-- Offset credits for carbon sequestration rates based upon science;
-- Producers being permitted to stack environmental benefit credits;
-- Establishment of a static baseline; and
-- Limiting leakage analysis to the confines of the United States.
Comments: The initial signs
of a compromise confronting some but certainly not all of Peterson's and
the farm groups' demands are coming into focus. While Peterson said he
would have enough votes with him to defeat the climate change bill if
agriculture doesn't get its priorities dealt with, congressional sources
see an eventual give on some of the ag sector initiatives.
This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or
retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.