The House of Representatives approved controversial climate change legislation, known formally as the American Clean Energy Security Act (ACES), late Friday by a 219 to 212 vote.
The vote followed a week of extensive negotiation, primarily on the part of House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), who worked with House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and House Leadership to add a workable agriculture piece to the underlying Waxman-Markey bill, approved by the Energy and Commerce Committee in May.
Legislative language for the agriculture sections was available early Thursday morning. Late in the day, NAWG released a statement on the bill from President Karl Scronce, a wheat producer from Klamath Falls, Ore., reading:
“NAWG policy supports climate change legislation allowing agricultural greenhouse gas offsets to be utilized as an unlimited source of greenhouse gas emissions offsets, and we have signed onto nine industry principles for pending legislation. H.R. 2454 with changes as negotiated by House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson will contain language effectively adhering to the former and satisfying nearly all of the latter. In fact, the changes Chairman Peterson negotiated also address additional concerns about regional flexibility, biomass production and indirect land use calculations.
“Therefore, NAWG supports the passage of H.R. 2454 with the Peterson amendment.
“We acknowledge the inevitability of greenhouse gas regulation – whether that comes through legislation produced by Congress or rules issued by the Environmental Protection Agency under authority given by the Supreme Court.
“Members of NAWG’s staff and leadership have worked for a number of years to ensure that agriculture has a place in any climate change legislation and that producers are able to reap potential benefits rather than just accept coming costs.
“This is not perfect legislation, but legislation rarely is. We are deeply grateful for Chairman Peterson’s involvement in this process and appreciate the continued willingness of House Leadership to address the concerns of the agriculture community. We look forward to working with Senators in a similar manner.”
Work now shifts to the Senate process. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) has tentatively scheduled consideration of the bill by her Committee for late July, and floor consideration is anticipated sometime this fall.
Even before the House vote, agriculture groups wrote leaders of the Senate’s Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry asking that they schedule a “series of hearings” to examine in depth how the ag offset provisions would function and the effects of the complete bill on the industry.
Legislative text of the agriculture portion is available online at http://agriculture.house.gov/index.shtml
More on NAWG’s climate change positions can be found at www.wheatworld.org/issues/climatechange.