Senate passes Growing Climate Solutions Act, but 8 senators, Thompson oppose it
The Senate on Thursday passed the Growing Climate Solutions Act by a vote of 92 to 8.
The bill, introduced by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind,. and co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of more than 50 other senators, “provides resources and incentives to help farmers and foresters scale up conservation practices on their land to benefit the environment and generate new sources of income through carbon markets at the same time,” Stabenow noted in a news release.
Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., the ranking member on the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, said in a news release, “Our farmers and ranchers do a tremendous job providing food, fuel and fiber to meet our needs and they do so with good environmental stewardship.”
“This legislation removes barriers and provides producers with the opportunity, if they choose, to participate in carbon credit markets and to be rewarded for their environmental efforts. We’ll continue working to ensure that participation in these carbon markets remains voluntary and that they are farmer-friendly.”
Hoeven pointed out that the bill:
▪ Establishes a Greenhouse Gas Technical Assistance Provider and Third-Party Verifier Certification Program through the Agriculture Department to promote voluntary farmer participation in carbon credit markets.
▪ Regulates third-party verifiers and companies, which would work with farmers to certify credit-generating farm practices.
▪ Requires USDA to report to Congress on barriers to market entry, challenges raised by farmers, market performance, and suggestions on where USDA can make a positive contribution to the further adoption of voluntary carbon sequestration practices.
Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said in a news release, “The Growing Climate Solutions Act builds a strong foundation for the development of producer-led carbon markets by helping interested farmers and ranchers get their foot in the door and learn more about the costs and benefits associated with their voluntary participation.”
Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., noted in a news release that he is a coauthor of the bill and that he had written an article in the Washington Times supporting it.
But four Democrats — Cory Booker of New Jersey, Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Jeff Merkley of Oregon — plus independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Republicans Josh Hawley of Missouri, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, and Mike Lee of Utah voted against it.
Before the vote on final passage, the Senate rejected by a vote of 89 to 11 an amendment offered by Lee that Stabenow said would have gutted the bill.
The senators who voted for the Lee amendment were all Republicans: Lee, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Ted Cruz of Texas, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, James Lankford of Oklahoma, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Rick Scott of Florida, Dan Sullivan of Alaska, and Pat Tommey of Pennsylvania.
A companion bill has been introduced in the House by Reps. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., and Don Bacon, R-Neb.
In a news release, Spanberger praised Senate passage and added, “This bill is a terrific example of how members on both sides of the aisle can find common ground on addressing the major climate challenges we face.”
“Our bill would break down longstanding barriers for farmers, ranchers, and foresters — and it would reward them for embracing smart practices that are good for the land and good for their bottom lines. I would like to thank Sen. Stabenow and Braun for their strong leadership on this issue, and I am confident that the House Agriculture Committee will move quickly to advance our legislation to the floor of the House.”
But Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., the ranking member on the House Agriculture Committee, said in a news release, “This bill is a big-government solution in search of a problem.”
“The consequences of government intrusion into voluntary carbon markets have not been adequately explored and Congress should continue educating itself and vetting these issues before legislating.
“As these debates continue, I invite my colleagues to learn how House Republicans are promoting real, sustainable climate solutions that empower farmers and ranchers, the original stewards of our land. Every bill introduced will reduce our carbon footprint, and increase the productivity and economic competitiveness of our farms and rural communities—all without adding more red tape.”
Stabenow noted that more than 175 national farm organizations, food and agriculture companies, and environmental advocates have expressed their support for the bill and many issued news releases Thursday supporting it.
American Soybean Association President Kevin Scott, a soybean farmer from Valley Springs, S.D., said, “Soy growers are dedicated to finding ways to improve our natural resources and protect our climate.”
“Many have expressed interest in participating in voluntary environmental credit markets, but the market landscape is evolving quickly and lacks uniform standards. This “moving target” makes it hard for individual farmers to determine which options are best for their operation. Senate passage of the GCSA is a positive step toward ensuring these markets will be transparent and accessible to farmers, allowing them to make informed contributions to climate solutions.”
Madhu Anderson, director of governmental relations for The Nature Conservancy in Michigan, said, “We applaud Sen. Stabenow’s leadership on the bipartisan Growing Climate Solutions Act.”
“This is a big win for addressing climate impacts through Michigan agriculture, forestry and conservation. Farmers and foresters play an important role in reducing carbon emissions, and the provisions in this bill will help them better navigate the complexities of new carbon markets.”
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