Monday, June 08, 2009

EPA cuts by half its estimate of money farmers could make from carbon storage under climate bill

"New government estimates suggest farmers would make a lot less money than previously believed" from the pending legislation to cut greenhouse-gas emissions, reports Philip Brasher of The Des Moines Register. "That could make it more difficult than it already is for Democrats and the Obama administration to sell a climate bill to farm-state members of the House and Senate."

The Environmental Protection Agency estimated in 2005 that nearly 700 million metric tons of carbon dioxide could be kept out of the atmosphere by changes in forest and farm practices, about a fourth of it from less tillage, which keeps more crop residue in the ground. "But in analyzing the House bill, the EPA estimated that the carbon credits from agriculture and forestry likely won't exceed 300 million tons until after 2040," Brasher notes. "Even then, virtually all of those offsets would come from planting and preserving forests, not through agriculture."

Turns out that EPA didn't realize how many farmers had adopted no-till and minimum-tillage methods. The estimate also chenged because of the 2007 energy bill, which "mandated the use of biofuels made from crop residue and other sources of biomass, which means there will be less plant material, or carbon, left in soil to earn carbon credits," Brasher explains. (Read more)

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