Growing Climate Solutions Act moves forward with hearing, House version
By Steve Valk
Bipartisan legislation to support climate-smart farming methods picked up significant steam in Congress recently. The Growing Climate Solutions Act was introduced in the Senate in early June, and last Wednesday, the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee held a hearing on the bill. Last Friday, an evenly bipartisan group of representatives introduced a House version of the legislation.
The House bill, H.R. 7393, is sponsored by Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE) and Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) and eight other Republicans and Democrats. The Senate bill, S. 3894, is sponsored by Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN), Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).
Science and policy experts have long looked to the agricultural sector, one of the largest sources of carbon dioxide emissions, as an important part of solving climate change. By moving to climate-friendly, sustainable farming practices, a significant amount of emissions could be eliminated and massive amounts of existing carbon can be sequestered.
The Growing Climate Solutions Act provides the incentive for farmers and foresters to engage in those sustainable practices by helping them to access the lucrative carbon credit markets and get paid for the emissions they reduce and the carbon they sequester. It gives farmers technical assistance to develop practices that are eligible for carbon credits, measure the value of those credits and certify them for trading on the market.
At last Wednesday’s Senate hearing, bill cosponsor Sen. Stabenow said, “Our farmers know that sustainability and profitability go hand in hand. This bill will help farmers improve their operations, build new revenue streams, all while addressing the root cause of the serious climate crisis.”
The committee heard from representatives from Environmental Defense Fund, American Farm Bureau Federation, National Farmers Union and Land O’Lakes Inc. The bill enjoys support from more than 50 businesses, farm groups and environmental organizations, including McDonald’s and Microsoft.
CCL is among the organizations supporting the Growing Climate Solutions Act. Why are we doing this?
While CCL’s primary focus is on the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act to bring down carbon emissions, there are a number of carbon-reducing approaches that stand to benefit from other legislation that can fill policy gaps. Changing the ways we produce food and timber is one of the gaps that needs to be filled, and the Growing Climate Solutions Act offers a cost-effective way to make that happen.
CCL volunteers held more than 400 virtual lobby meetings with congressional offices earlier in June, and the bill was brought up in many of those meetings.
“Our volunteers are really enthusiastic about this legislation, and it was very well received in those meetings with both Republican and Democratic offices,” said Ben Pendergrass, CCL’s Senior Director of Government Affairs. “The fact that a hearing was held in the Senate is an indication that the Ag Committee intends to mark up the bill and move it out of committee. There’s broad support from both environmental and farm groups, which is very rare.” That could be a recipe for passage before the end of the year.
In a statement about introducing the House bill, Rep. Bacon said, “Many of our nation’s farmers and foresters do not know how to implement projects or navigate the current carbon credit marketplace… I am pleased to lead this bill in the House and help reduce barriers for our agriculture sector.”
Rep. Spanberger tweeted about the bill she and Rep. Bacon introduced:
I'm introducing @SenStabenow and @SenatorBraun's bipartisan legislation in the House. Facing volatile markets, trade wars, and a global pandemic, American farmers need our support. By incentivizing sustainability, we can help more family farms stay afloat.https://t.co/Ap27KC5aDt
— Rep. Abigail Spanberger (@RepSpanberger) June 25, 2020
Speaking of tweets, if you’d like to express your appreciation to all the congressional sponsors of the Growing Climate Solutions Act, you can tweet them using this action tool.
Those who want to explore this legislation a bit more can check out the agriculture session that CCL’s Elli Sparks led during our virtual conference earlier this month. In our opening for the conference, Sen. Braun spoke about the Growing Climate Solutions Act, and you can watch that here.
Despite the medical, economic and social justice emergencies currently consuming our nation’s attention, concern about climate change continues to be a priority in Congress. With last week’s Senate hearing and the introduction of a House bill, the Growing Climate Solutions Act is gathering the momentum necessary to move forward. Political will at the grassroots level will be needed to get this legislation over the finish line. As they’ve shown in the past, our volunteers are up to the task.