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Serving: United States

Ag Gets a Save (For Now) With Climate Change Bill Amendment

This week, Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) authored an amendment to the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (H.R. 2454), which helps address serious agricultural concerns.

In a press conference with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi yesterday, Peterson said he and others have been working with Senator Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) “to massage the part of the bill that affects agriculture in terms of whether we can develop the next generation of biofuels, and we can have an offset program that we believe works for agriculture . . .”

Following the announcement of the amendment, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) sent a letter to Rep. Peterson in support. The RFA has been concerned about the issue of international land use change being incorporated into lifecycle greenhouse gas analyses (as required by the Renewable Fuel Standard/RFS). The RFA points out that the science of international land use impacts is “nascent,” and that time is still needed for scientists to come to consensus on scientifically-sound analysis.

“Done correctly, the RFA believes such an analysis will demonstrate a significant carbon benefit is achieved through the use of ethanol from all sources.Your amendment restores the principles of sound science to the regulatory framework for the RFS,” wrote the RFA to Rep. Peterson.

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) also supports passage of the amendment because it “establishes an agricultural offset program within the USDA; provides for a list of eligible agricultural offsets; corrects the misuse of indirect land use calculations in evaluating the use of biofuels; and alters the definition of biomass,” said AFBF Bob Stallman.

The National Corn Growers Association reports that the amendment will create “a workable agricultural offsets market under the jurisdiction of the USDA and will explicitly exempt agriculture from a greenhouse gas emissions cap while also creating opportunities for producers to be a part of the solution for addressing climate change.”

It's important to point out, however, that some agricultural and environmental constituencies are split on the measure. The debate will continue in Congress. If the bill passes in the House, it could face a more difficult time in the Senate. Stay tuned.

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