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Harkin: No climate bill until next year

Agriculture.com Staff 11/11/2009 @ 12:10pm

The debate over health care legislation will push the Senate's work on a climate change bill into next year, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) said Tuesday. Harkin is one of several farm state Democrats trying to improve a climate change bill recently passed by The Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee.

The committee chairman, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), recently got a bill out of her committee over a Republican boycott, by not allowing any amendments.

Harkin and five other Democrats have introduced the Clean Energy Partnership Act that, among other changers, would put USDA in charge of trading carbon credits to farmers and rancher, instead of EPA.

The bill is similar to amendments that Representative Collin Peterson got added to a climate bill which has already passed the House, Harkin said Tuesday.

"Quite frankly, I don't know that we're going to do anything on it until next year because we have the health bill," Harkin told reporters. Harkin gave up his chairmanship of the Agriculture Committee to head the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. He is now one of the key leaders involved in putting together a health care bill.

Other cosponsors of the Clean Energy Partnership Act are Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Max Baucus (D-MT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Mark Begich (D-AK).

Also on Tuesday, Senator Chuck Grassley, Harkin's Republican colleague from Iowa, told Agriculture Online that he might support the bill, which could be added the Boxer bill during floor debate.

"If it's what Congressman Peterson did in the House and they want to do it in the Senate, I would support that," Grassley said.

Grassley added that he doesn't think the Peterson amendment went far enough in recognizing improvements that farmers have already made through no till and other practices that capture carbon. And, her said, the climate legislation doesn't have much support from the GOP because its cost would be a drag on the economy.

Recently at least one Republican Senator, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, has said that he wants to see the Senate produce a compromise climate bill that can pass. Grassley said that if Graham succeeds, a few Republicans might vote for a climate bill in the Senate.

The debate over health care legislation will push the Senate's work on a climate change bill into next year, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) said Tuesday. Harkin is one of several farm state Democrats trying to improve a climate change bill recently passed by The Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee.

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