Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and three other cabinet-level members of the Obama Administration testified before the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee this week on pending climate change legislation.
Little new came out of the hearing, which was the first in the Senate after the House passed a modified version of the Waxman-Markey proposal in late June.
In his comments, Vilsack repeatedly emphasized the role of agriculture in climate regulation, saying, “It is difficult to see how greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere can be stabilized without policies that target emissions and carbon sequestration on agricultural and forestlands.”
Vilsack was also frank that the agriculture sector would not escape costs due to climate legislation and indicated USDA is preparing detailed analysis of how the ag and forestry sectors are likely to fare under a climate bill, information that should provide a comparison to the costs of regulation of greenhouse gases by the Environmental Protection Agency if a legislative solution is not achieved.
Indications are that the legislative process in the Senate will be more deliberative – and take longer – than that in the House.
EPW Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) announced this week that she is delaying mark-up of any climate change legislation until after the chamber’s August recess, a move largely seen as an effort to gain negotiating time and votes.
EPW has scheduled a hearing on Tuesday, July 14, to look at the economic opportunities for agriculture and forestry, though witnesses have not yet been announced.
The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry has also scheduled a hearing, on July 22, to look at agriculture’s role in climate change legislation.
NAWG will continue to work with coalition partners, Members and others as the process proceeds in the Senate. The Association has worked on issues of carbon sequestration and climate change for a number of years in an effort to ensure appropriate agriculture pieces are included in any effort to regulate greenhouse gases.
Testimony from all witnesses at this week’s hearing is at http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Hearings.Hearing&Hearing_ID=36d4e3a5-802a-23ad-46dc-18337864995f