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Ag Climate Change group sees opportunity in Waxman legislation

Agriculture.com Staff 04/01/2009 @ 2:30pm

The timing couldn't have been better. A day after Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA) released a "discussion draft" of legislation meant to combat global warming, an agricultural group released its own report on exactly how farmers, ranchers and forest owners can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The report, "Agriculture and Forestry in a Reduced Carbon Economy: Solutions from the Land," was released Wednesday by 25x'25, a group that has been lobbying for energy legislation to provide 25% of the nation's fuel supply from renewables by 2025.

The group argues that agriculture and forestry can help capture carbon in soil, plants and trees, but only if climate change legislation includes a cap and trade program that will adequately reward landowners for doing do.

Members of the 25x'25 Carbon Work Group told Agriculture Online that Waxman's bill holds promise.

"There's lots of things in there that may be good for agriculture and some things that may need to be changed," said one of the Group members, Fred Yoder, a past president of the National Corn Growers Association.

The Waxman bill would limit trading of carbon credits to 2 billion tons per year, with half of that being domestic carbon credits. Yoder thinks that may be too small of a market. And Waxman would have EPA setting the standards for agricultural carbon credits. The Carbon Work Group would prefer USDA, which already has a good understanding of existing research on carbon sequestration in soils.

The bill is a long way from becoming law. Waxman's own committee on Energy and Commerce Committee hasn't voted on a climate change bill, although his goal is to have a bill written by Memorial Day. Then the full House would have to vote on it. The Senate may have a different form of legislation. But climate change legislation remains a high priority for the Obama administration, which will want to be able to offer leadership when the next round of international climate change negotiations take place in Copenhagen, Denmark in December.

Click here to see the 25x'25 report. Click here to see a summary of Waxman's bill.

The timing couldn't have been better. A day after Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA) released a "discussion draft" of legislation meant to combat global warming, an agricultural group released its own report on exactly how farmers, ranchers and forest owners can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Although the House is moving quickly to craft a climate change bill, the Senate is not.

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