|Washington, D.C., November 5, 2009—In a statement today, Jon Scholl, President of American Farmland Trust (AFT) said:
“We are pleased to see this group of Senators, led by Senators Stabenow (D-MI) and Baucus (D-MT), introduce the Clean Energy Partnerships Act of 2009. This bill makes significant improvements that will benefit agriculture under the Kerry-Boxer bill being debated now in the Senate, and this is a much-needed step to address the concerns of farmers and ranchers.
Senators Begich (D-AK), Brown (D-OH) Harkin (D-IA), Klobuchar (D-MN) and Shaheen (D-NH) joined Senators Stabenow and Baucus in sponsoring the legislation.
American Farmland Trust believes our nation can address our concerns about energy independence and climate change by fully engaging the agricultural sector. By maximizing agriculture’s participation in any legislation we will maximize the environmental benefits that the bill will bring and generate new income opportunities for farmers and ranchers who will be producing renewable energy and carbon offsets.
The Clean Energy Partnerships Act addresses many of the technical concerns of the agricultural sector related to the creation of an offset market and develops a new carbon conservation program funded by allowances. AFT has developed, with other leading agriculture organizations, principles, priorities and policy options to enable farmers and ranchers to realize opportunities in a cap & trade system. In particular, the Clean Energy Partnerships Act makes changes from the proposed Senate bill that:
- Ensure agriculture is not subject to an emissions cap;
- Ensure that USDA promulgates the rules and administers any agricultural offset program;
- Creates clear authority so that projects partially funded with government money are eligible for credits and ensures that stackable environmental credits from projects are recognized;
- Creates clearer mechanisms to recognize producers and systems already in place in the voluntary carbon markets;
- Clarifies various technical requirements for carbon sequestration projects;
- Creates a comprehensive and well-funded government carbon conservation program for producers who are ineligible or unable to participate in a carbon offset market; and
- Provides supplemental funding for various programs to jumpstart renewable energy projects.
“In the near term, carbon sequestration projects on agricultural lands are the easiest, most readily available, and cost efficient means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions on a meaningful scale. While we recognize the concern over increase costs for farmers arising from a cap & trade system, recent studies indicate those increases will be nominal over 20-40 years, while the ability to participate in offset markets and the production of alternative energies will provide greater income opportunities than the increased cost of production,” adds Scholl.
Along with other agriculture organizations, AFT has sent a letter of appreciation to the Clean Energy Partnership Act co-sponsors. AFT looks forward to working with the co-sponsors, Chairwoman Lincoln and members of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and other Senators to strengthen the final bill so agriculture can play a pivotal role in protecting and restoring our natural resources, and maintaining a competitive agricultural sector.
Letter from AFT and other Organizations
Clean Energy Partnerships Act of 2009