Work Continues in the House on Climate Change Deal

June 19, 2009 Bookmark and Share

Discussions continue between leaders of the House Agriculture Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee about how or what kind of agriculture piece will be included in pending climate change legislation.

The Agriculture Committee held a hearing last week at which many Members expressed deep skepticism about agriculture’s role in the bill and their ability to support it without significant changes. Perhaps the most important of these concerns is that USDA control ag offsets in any cap and trade program – a top, nonnegotiable priority for Members and farm groups alike.

All eyes have been focused this week on Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) who is negotiating personally with Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) Though a compromise is said to be imminent, no details are available, and CongressDaily reported Friday afternoon that Peterson had dismissed one proposal from Waxman.

It is unlikely there will be an Agriculture Committee mark-up of the climate bill as House Leadership aims to have the bill to the floor next week if at all possible.

A 2007 Supreme Court ruling gave the Environmental Protection Agency authority to regulate six greenhouse gases if they contribute to air pollution that may endanger public health or welfare. In April, EPA issued a proposed endangerment finding, which is the first step to regulation under this ruling.

NAWG has been working since early in the year with other agriculture groups and many Members to craft a legislative cap-and-trade proposal from which agriculture could benefit, rather than relying on EPA regulation. In recent days, representatives from NAWG and others in the agriculture community have also been discussing their concerns with the leadership of the relevant Committees, House Leadership and high-level authorities in the White House.

This week, NAWG signed onto a letter asking for an extension of the comment period in EPA’s proposed endangerment finding and requesting that EPA reconsider its position. For that letter and other information on NAWG’s climate change work, please visit www.wheatworld.org/issues/climatechange.

Also this week, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved a wide-ranging energy bill including infrastructure projects and a renewable electricity standard, but also touching on some of the issues dealt with in the House climate change legislation.