The House Energy and Commerce Committee approved a climate change bill by a 33-25 vote late Thursday after a week of mark-ups and months of negotiations.
As was expected, the nearly 1,000-page bill passed the Committee without language directly related to agriculture.
During mark-up, however, Rep. Zack Space (D-Ohio) introduced and withdrew an amendment including an extensive list of offset project types; that amendment could not be considered by the Committee because it does not have jurisdiction over agricultural issues, including sequestration projects by the ag or forestry sectors. Space also offered an amendment on offset projects started before the bill’s enactment, which was accepted by a voice vote.
Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) repeatedly stated his goal of having a bill out of Committee by Memorial Day recess, which started Friday. Leadership in the House would like to see the bill passed out of that chamber by August recess.
The bill has been referred to eight committees other than Energy and Commerce, including Agriculture. It is unclear what, if anything, the Agriculture Committee will do with the bill; Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) has said he won’t take up the issue until indirect land-use issues concerning the renewable fuels standard are resolved.
NAWG has not endorsed any bill on this topic, but has aggressively shared a set of principles for agriculture’s role in a cap-and-trade framework including ag offsets, which is perhaps the best way to mitigate the economic impact of climate legislation on the agricultural sector. NAWG Director of Government Affairs for Environmental Policy Mark Gaede spoke to agriculture staffers outlining this position Monday, the latest in an extensive series of outreach efforts.
For other information about the bill, including bill text, visit http://energycommerce.house.gov