Friday, March 19, 2010

Prospects improve for new energy-climate bill, including carbon offsets for agriculture

The demise of a broad "cap and trade" plan to limit greenhouse-gas emissions does not mean that agriculture will be left out of a new energy-and-climate bill being negotiated in the Senate, and it is looking more likely that such a bill can actually pass this year. "We are starting to see some actual movement in that direction," writes still-skeptical Chris Clayton, agricultural policy editor for DTN/The Progressive Farmer.

"It's been clear from the get-go that there would need to be agricultural offsets even if there were no cap-and-trade plan," Clayton writes. "It's likely that the bill relies on the language drafted last fall by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., for the agricultural section," since Agriculture Committee Chair Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., "has been resistant to climate legislation."

Under Stabenow's last plan, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Agriculture would “establish a program to govern the creation of credits from emission reductions from uncapped domestic sources and sinks” within one year of enactment of the bill. USDA would “administer as the lead agency” creation of "a list of eligible methodologies that can be used to reduce emissions, approving petitions and verifying emission reductions under practices going back to Jan. 1, 2001," Clayton writes.

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