House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders released a discussion draft this week of climate change legislation expected to move toward completion before August.
Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said the legislation, dubbed the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES), would create jobs, help end American dependence on foreign oil and combat global warming.
NAWG and agricultural coalition review of the draft indicates it is a constructive first step on the road to climate change legislation, which Waxman has said the Energy and Commerce Committee will complete before Memorial Day Recess, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has said the full House will complete before recessing in August.
NAWG has been working extensively on this issue along with a variety of coalition partners. On March 20, a dozen agricultural groups including NAWG released nine principles for greenhouse gas legislation, and coalition members have been engaging in dialogue about policy options with both committee and House Leadership.
NAWG was one of the first groups to advocate a strong role for agriculture in a cap and trade system and will continue work on this issue in the coming months.
One impetus for Congressional action on this issue is imminent regulation of carbon dioxide by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that carbon dioxide can be regulated by the EPA if the Agency determines it is a public health threat, which EPA leaders are poised to do.
Most agree Congressional action is preferable to EPA regulations, which would cover any activity emitting more than 100 tons of carbon per year. For context, a dairy cow typically emits about 4 tons of carbon per year, meaning operators with more than about 25 cows could face permitting fees of at least $45 per ton starting with their 26th cows. This estimate does not include emissions from any farm equipment or other operations.
For more on the discussion draft, including a summary and the full text, please visit http://energycommerce.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1560&Itemid=1