House Working To Write and Pass the $3.5 Trillion Build Back Better Act Reconciliation Package

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 07 Sep 2021 19:31:00 GMT

The House of Representatives has begun a whirlwind effort to pass the $3.5 trillion “human infrastructure” reconciliation bill known as the Build Back Better Act this month. Practically every committee in the House has some component of the bill, known formally as S. Con. Res. 14, the Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2022, under its jurisdiction.

The House Committee on Natural Resources, chaired by Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-N.Mex.), was the first to handle its section, with a full-day markup last week. The committee will meet again this Thursday to vote on a few Republican amendments before final consideration of its bill.

The largest elements of the bill, dealing with health care, child care, and retirement, are being handled by the House Committee on Ways and Means, chaired by corporate ally Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.). They have two days of markup planned for this Thursday and Friday.

The Science Committee, Education and Labor Committee, and Small Business Committee also are conducting their markups on Thursday.

The Agriculture Committee is holding its markup on Friday.

With "No Double-Dip" Deal, Biden Has Quietly Acquiesced To Enormous Climate Justice Cuts In Infrastructure Plans

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 31 Aug 2021 19:20:00 GMT


Pres. Biden announces bipartisan infrastructure deal with eight of the 21 white U.S. Senators who negotiated the package.
With the so-called “no double-dip” rule, President Biden and 21 senators have negotiated a deal on the Build Back Better agenda that threatens several of his major climate and racial justice initiatives. The senators, all of whom are white, protected industry priorities in their deal.

At risk include programs for restoring minority neighborhoods cleaved by racially unjust highway projects, cut 96 percent, and for replacing all the lead water pipes in the nation, cut 67 percent.

In May, Biden proposed $6 trillion in public investment ($5 trillion in new spending) over ten years, in the form of the $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan, a $1.9 trillion American Families Plan, and about $1.5 trillion more in other spending.

Biden’s proposed plan was significantly smaller than that advocated by Green New Dealers, who called for $10 trillion in spending over ten years to build a just and sustainable economy.

After months of Senate negotiations, Biden’s plan was cut down to about $4.5 trillion, broken into two legislative components – a $1 trillion ($550 billion in new spending) bipartisan “physical infrastructure” package passed by the Senate by a filibuster-proof majority, and a $3.5-trillion reconciliation package intended to pass with only Democratic votes.

The bipartisan package is a fully detailed bill, while the reconciliation package, at least publicly, remains a top-level skeleton that remains to be fleshed out.

The “double-dip” deal is this: any initiative which received any monies in the bipartisan package cannot receive more in the reconciliation package. As Politico reported on June 30:
The president said something really important the other day and nobody noticed. At his press conference celebrating the bipartisan infrastructure deal, Joe Biden suggested there would be no coming back for seconds: When it comes to spending on basic physical infrastructure (for roads, bridges, public transportation, etc.), the bipartisan deal is it. There will be no using the parallel, Democrats-only reconciliation package to spend more on those things than Republicans agreed to.

Instead, Biden indicated, the reconciliation bill is exclusively for stuff that Democrats want but Republicans oppose — like spending for family care, climate change and health care.

This may seem like a minor point, but it has big implications. On the left, some progressives have argued that they would simply add to the reconciliation bill anything that wasn’t fully funded in the bipartisan bill. That’s not happening. Biden wanted $157 billion for electric vehicles. The bipartisan bill spends $15 billion. He wanted $100 billion for broadband, and he secured $65 billion. From the White House’s perspective, these issues are now resolved and the reconciliation bill can’t be used to take another crack at them.

We checked with the White House, and officials confirmed that this interpretation is correct.

On the right, some conservatives have argued that voting for the bipartisan deal is pointless because Democrats will simply take what they can get from Republicans on highway spending or airports and then get the rest in the reconciliation bill.

But what’s actually happening is that the bipartisan bill is serving as a brake on what Biden can spend on core infrastructure.

In July, the Senate’s bipartisan package whittled $2.6 billion of Biden’s planned new spending down to $550 billion. Left out completely were major components of Biden’s plan that likely will be taken up in the reconciliation package, including housing, schools, clean energy tax credits, and home and community-based care.

However, because of the “no double-dip” deal Biden and the Senate negotiators made, the following programs face massive cuts that can’t be restored unless the deal is broken:
  • Reconnecting minority communities cut off by highway projects, cut 96% from $24 billion to $1 billion
  • Replacing the nation’s lead pipes, cut 67% from $45 billion to $15 billion
  • Investing in electric school buses, cut 87% from $20 billion to $2.5 billion
  • Repairing and modernizing public transit, cut 54% from $85 billion to $39 billion
  • Building electric vehicle charging stations, cut 50% from $15 billion to $7.5 billion
  • Upgrading and modernizing America’s drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater systems, cut 46% from $56 billion to $30 billion
  • Road safety, including “vision zero” programs to protect pedestrians, cut 45% from $20 billion to $11 billion
  • Broadband infrastructure, cut 35% from $100 billion to $65 billion
  • Investing in passenger and freight rail, cut 18% from $80 billion to $66 billion

This overall cut of nearly half of $441 billion in proposed spending disproportionately targets the urban and rural poor and minority “environmental justice” communities, despite the Biden administration’s stated plans of achieving justice through intentional spending. Biden’s plan was about one-third of what Green New Deal advocates have said is needed for these initiatives.

The Green New Deal Network, a coalition of over 100 organizations, is advocating for the restoration of these funds.

House Transportation Committee chair Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) is intending to challenge the “no double-dip” deal for programs under his jurisdiction, including high-speed rail, connecting neighborhoods, and water systems.

In contrast, the all-white team of 21 U.S. Senators who crafted this deal, led by Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), approved Biden’s requested spending levels for highways, airports, waterways, and major bailouts for industrial polluters responsible for chemical and fracking cleanups.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland To Join Ceremonial Protest Against Oil Pipelines On Sacred Lands

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 27 Jul 2021 16:22:00 GMT

On Thursday, Secretary of the Interior Debra Haaland, the first Native American to hold that position, will meet with indigenous climate activists who have brought a totem pole from Washington state to Washington D.C. The “Red Road to DC” activists made the journey in support of Native groups opposing projects such as the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Line 3 tar-sands pipeline being constructed in Minnesota.

Haaland is scheduled to participate in the 2 pm blessing ceremony for the 25-foot pole carved by the Lummi Nation, which will be followed by a press conference featuring tribal leaders, organizers, and Congressional representatives.

The Red Road to DC took the totem pole to Chaco Canyon, Standing Rock, Bears Ears National Monument, Black Hills, White Earth, and other sites along the way that are home to Native Americans and threatened by mining and fossil-fuel development.

Federal and state forces have been part of the industry-led effort to harass and intimidate the growing group of activists opposing the Line 3 pipeline.

The demands of the Red Road to DC activists are:

We call on President Biden and Congress to direct all federal agencies to require the meaningful engagement and consent of affected Native Nations, early in the planning process, and before a project is approved.

Native Nations must be a part of the decision-making process. No more oil pipelines threatening water supplies without the consent of tribes. No more oil and gas drilling in ancient burial sites, without their permission. No more large-scale projects without tribes’ participation in planning and consent.

The U.S. must uphold the rights of Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples to Free, Prior & Informed Consent, as set forth by the United Nations.

Rep. Jamaal Bowman Introduces the Green New Deal for Public Schools

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 15 Jul 2021 18:03:00 GMT

Appearing before the JP Sousa Junior High School in the Bronx, Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), a lifelong educator and former middle school principal, on Thursday introduced the Green New Deal for Public Schools Act.

The ambitious new legislation — which aims to invest $1.43 trillion over 10 years in public schools and infrastructure to combat climate change — would invest in public school infrastructure by upgrading every public school building in the country, addressing historical harms and inequities by focusing support on high-need schools, and hiring and training hundreds of thousands of additional educators and support staff. If enacted, sponsors say, the legislation would fund 1.3 million jobs per year and eliminate 78 million metric tons of CO2 annually, the equivalent of taking 17 million cars off the road.

“It’s time for a revolution in public education,” said Rep. Jamaal Bowman. “As we deal with a devastating climate crisis caused by decades of unchecked corporate greed, we need to center our children and their future. The Green New Deal for Public Schools represents the level of school infrastructure investment that is urgent and necessary to heal the harm from decades of disinvestment, redlining and cycles of poverty and trauma, particularly for Black and brown children. What this comes down to is whether we’re willing to provide our kids with the resources they need to realize their brilliance and have a livable planet. Do we want to continue building a world based on militarization, incarceration, poverty, and destruction of resources? Or will we take advantage of this moment, put our kids and educators first, and treat the climate crisis as the emergency it is? This legislation is what we need to put us on the right side of history.”

The legislation is modeled on a proposal by the Climate + Community Project at the University of Pennsylvania.

The Green New Deal for Public Schools proposes $1.43 trillion in new funding over 10 years, including the following distribution of resources:
  • $446 billion in Climate Capital Facilities Grants and $40 billion for a Climate Change Resiliency Program Climate Capital Facilities Grants will fully fund healthy green retrofits for the highest-need third of schools, as measured by the CDC Social Vulnerability Index, and offer a mix of grant funding and no- or low-interest loans for the middle and top thirds. Grants will cover two-thirds and one-third of retrofit costs for these schools, respectively.
  • $250 billion in Resource Block Grants Resource Block Grants will fund staffing increases, expanded social service programming, and curriculum development at high-need schools. The program will allow Local Educational Agencies across the country to hire and train hundreds of thousands of additional educators and support staff, including paraprofessionals, school psychologists and counselors, and learning specialists. The funds may also be used to design locally-rooted curricula; adopt trauma-informed, culturally responsive, and restorative justice practices, to move towards a “whole child” approach to public education; and partner with community organizations to offer a range of services to schools and surrounding neighborhoods, such as after-school programs.
  • $100 million for an Educational Equity Planning Grants Pilot Program Educational Equity Planning Grants will encourage neighboring Local Education Agencies to form regional consortia, which will receive funding to conduct extensive community outreach, identify the historical and current sources of educational disparities within the region, and create and implement a Regional Education Equity Plan to address those disparities. This pilot program is modeled on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grants, which are designed to encourage equitable, locally-driven economic development.
  • $695 billion over 10 years for Title I and IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) increases This bill proposes quadrupling Title I funding to reach $66 billion annually to support schools and districts with students living in poverty, as well as increasing funding for IDEA Part B to reach $33 billion annually to support students with disabilities.

Analysis: $95 Billion Manchin Energy Infrastructure Act Is Heavily Biased Against Renewable Energy

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 13 Jul 2021 19:58:00 GMT

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), the chair of the Senate energy committee, has released the text of his Energy Infrastructure Act, which will undergo committee markup tomorrow.

An analysis by Friends of the Earth finds only $410 million in funding for renewable wind, solar, geothermal and tidal energy but nearly $30 billion for non-renewable energy programs.

Even the investments in storage and energy efficiency are less than half of spending in polluting energy.

The legislation proposes to make $95 billion in infrastructure investments mainly concentrated in the energy sector. But a close look at exactly where the money is going to go reveals an undeniable bet on dirty energy from the 20th century over clean energy from the 21st. In fact, the bill authorizes $28.8 billion in nuclear, carbon capture and dirty hydrogen over only $410 million in direct authorizations for wind, solar, geothermal and tidal. That’s a ratio of dirty to renewables of over 70-to-1. Even when combining the renewable provisions with the bill’s meager storage and efficiency programs, Manchin still proposes spending twice as much on dirty than he does on clean.

Most of the language for the carbon capture text was taken from the SCALE (Storing CO2 and Lowering Emissions) Act from Sen. Christopher Coons (D-Del.).

The nuclear provisions were drawn from the American Nuclear Infrastructure Act from Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.).

The fossil & polluting energy provisions include:
  • $12.6 billion for carbon capture projects, including financing for carbon-dioxide pipelines used for enhanced oil recovery to extend the life of oil wells.
  • $6 billion for subsidy payments to the nuclear industry to extend the lifetime of aging plants past economic viability.
  • $7 billion in research and development from hydrogen programs; 95 percent of hydrogen production is from fracked gas.
  • $1.9 billion in subsidies for commercial logging on public lands
On the storage and energy-efficiency side, provisions include:
  • $6 billion for battery production: minerals mining, processing, manufacturing, and recycling
  • $3.5 billion for the low-income energy efficiency efforts under the Weather Assistance Program

In addition, there is a further giveaway to the coal industry worth hundreds of millions of dollars in the text: a 20% cut to the Abandoned Mine Land fee paid by the coal industry.

Senior ExxonMobil lobbyist Keith McCoy revealed to a journalist posing as a corporate recruiter that Manchin holds weekly calls with Exxon. He named Coons and Barrasso as two other “crucial” allies to the oil giant’s agenda.

Democratic Climate Groups Release $10 Million Clean-Energy Jobs Ad Campaign

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 08 Jul 2021 14:54:00 GMT

The Democratic Party-aligned organizations Climate Power and the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) have begun a $10 million spend on television spots to promote the Biden infrastructure plan with a clean-energy jobs message. This effort is part of a broader $28 million “Great American Build” campaign.

The new ads are airing on national cable and the Washington D.C. market, as well as the local markets of 23 congressional swing districts held by Democrats.

Climate Power is a joint effort of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, League of Conservation Voters, and the Sierra Club, with an advisory board of Democratic and environmentalist luminaries.

Four states:
  • Arizona (Kelly and Sinema)
  • Georgia (Ossoff and Warnock)
  • New Hampshire (Hassan and Shaheen)
  • Nevada (Cortez Masto and Rosen)
The congressional districts:
  • AZ-01 (O’Halleran)
  • GA-06 (McBath)
  • GA-07 (Bourdeaux)
  • IA-03 (Axne)
  • IL-14 (Underwood)
  • KS-03 (Davids)
  • ME-02 (Golden)
  • MI-08 (Slotkin)
  • MI-11 (Stevens)
  • MN-02 (Craig)
  • NH-01 (Pappas)
  • NJ-03 (Kim)
  • NJ-07 (Malinowski)
  • NJ-11 (Sherrill)
  • NV-03 (Lee)
  • NV-04 (Horsford)
  • NY-19 (Delgado)
  • OR-04 (DeFazio)
  • PA-07 (Wild)
  • PA-08 (Cartwright)
  • VA-02 (Luria)
  • VA-07 (Spanberger)
  • WI-03 (Kind)
An example of the district ads: In addition to the television spots, there are digital ads. An example of the digital ads, targeting Georgia:

Manchin Announces His Plan to Cede Control of Senate to "100% Wrong" Mitch McConnell

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 07 Jun 2021 08:25:00 GMT

Over the weekend, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) embraced the Republican filibuster, giving Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) veto power over all future legislation.

Manchin, the chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, penned an essay in the Charleston Gazette-Mail unequivocally stating, “I will not vote to weaken or eliminate the filibuster.”

Current Senate rules require 60 votes to overcome the filibuster, which gives Republicans veto power in the 50-50 Senate. In May, McConnell announced that “One-hundred percent of our focus is on stopping this new administration.”

In an interview with Fox News’s Chris Wallace on Sunday, Manchin sharply criticized McConnell’s partisan obstruction: “I think he’s 100% wrong in trying to block all the good things that we’re trying to do for America.”

In his essay, Manchin repeatedly invoked the possibility of bipartisanship as his justification for rejecting legislation such as the voting-rights For the People Act (H.R. 1).

However, Manchin also admitted there are only seven Republicans, not ten, that are willing to even potentially break with Mitch McConnell or Donald Trump.
Are the very Republican senators who voted to impeach Trump because of actions that led to an attack on our democracy unwilling to support actions to strengthen our democracy

Manchin’s low threshhold for bipartisanship – opposing Trump’s incitement of insurrection that led to an assault on the Senate chambers – was met by only seven Republicans. The vote required a 2/3 majority to convict Trump, but failed 57-43.

Manchin said to Wallace he’s aware of the numbers: “[W]e have seven brave Republicans that continue to vote for what they know is right and the facts as they see them, not worrying about the political consequences.”

He has not explained how 57 votes is sufficient to break a filibuster, since it’s not.

To wit: at the end of May, McConnell and 34 other Republicans successfully filibustered the legislation to create a bipartisan committee to investigate the attack on our democracy.

Analysis: CLEAN Future Act's Clean Energy Standard Is Designed To Fail

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 20 May 2021 13:53:00 GMT

An independent analysis of the CLEAN Future Act (H.R. 1512) finds that its provisions intended to phase out fossil-fueled electricity production by 2035 are dangerously flawed.

The so-called Clean Electricity Standard in Title II of the legislation establishes a cap-and-trade system of “zero-emission electricity” tradable credits for electricity generators. The cap of allowances for greenhouse-pollution-emitting electricity declines until 2035, when all electricity is meant to be “zero-emission,” a definition which encompasses renewable and nuclear energy.

In “Review of the Credit Trading System in Title II of the CLEAN Future Act,” Bruce Buckheit, a former director of the EPA Air Enforcement Division, finds that the system “is flawed to the point that it is unlikely to achieve zero emission electricity from the power sector by 2035.”

Specifically:
The CLEAN Future Act draft (dCFA) defers any serious disincentives for gas-fired generation until 2031 and then hopes to replace all of the growing gas-fired electric generating unit (EGU) fleet with renewable energy (RE) over a short 4-year period. This is not feasible and sets itself up for failure.

The starting baseline for “Zero Emission Electricity” (ZEE) requirements is based on the 2017-2019 generating mix. This ignores ongoing retirements of coal plants and RE capacity that is under construction today and will be online in 2023. The consequence is a large initial surplus of ZEE, disincentivizing necessary early investment in non-fossil fuel energy.

He expects that “gas-reliant regions, such as the Northeast U.S., might not have to take any significant action until 2031.”

Furthermore, Buckheit finds that the legislation as written doesn’t even require “zero-emission” electricity, but instead “permits generation at less than 0.4 mt (882 lb) CO2e/MWh.”

He also notes that, given regulatory timelines, the “trading system cannot begin to operate in 2023 as the draft bill contemplates.”

Read the full report.

Progressive Organizations Call For Clean Energy Standard Without "False Solutions"

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 14 May 2021 12:16:00 GMT

A broad coalition is asking the U.S. Congress to ensure any clean electricity standard (CES) passed into law be a renewable standard, which includes only renewable resources, particularly solar and wind energy, and excludes natural gas, biomass, and new nuclear plants.

Major signatories to the letter to Democratic congressional leaders include 350.org, Indigenous Environmental Network, the NAACP, Public Citizen, Friends of the Earth, the Center for Biological Diversity, Food & Water Watch, Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, National Family Farm Coalition, Mothers Out Front, GreenLatinos, Greenpeace, Labor Network for Sustainability, Stand.Earth, California Environmental Justice Alliance, Oil Change International and The Democracy Collaborative.

The letter addresses provisions in the text of the Climate Leadership and Environmental Action for our Nation’s (CLEAN) Future Act (H.R. 1512), which admits gas and carbon capture and storage as qualifying energies. The letter cites an analysis of the CLEAN Future Act’s CES credit-trading system, which finds that the bill offers “little incentive for operators with a full mix of generation to replace gas with renewable energy until 2035, since they get a much better benefit from retiring coal.”

The signatories write:
The definition [of clean energy] must exclude all fossil fuels and false solutions, including but not limited to: gas with and without carbon capture and storage and other fossil-based technologies; waste incineration and other combustion-based technologies; bioenergy including biomass, biofuels, factory farm gas, landfill gas, and wood pellets; new nuclear; and new, large-scale and ecosystem-altering hydropower, and all market-based accounting systems like offsets. Energy efficiency and demand-side management technologies must also be paired with renewable energies to vastly reduce energy consumption.

Writing for Politico, Michael Grunwald criticized the signatories as a “circular firing squad” of “utopian” “eco-purists” engaging in “political lunacy.” The only named critic of the letter he quoted was Data For Progress’s Julian Brave Noisecat (“There’s just no reason to take positions that aren’t politically defensible in Congress, and probably aren’t even technically defensible”).

Politico not only accepts advertising and sponsorship from corporate polluters but also collaborates with them on lobbying events.

Robinson Meyer, a journalist at the Atlantic, was similarly dismissive. Like Politico, the Atlantic collaborates with the fossil-fuel industry on lobbying and propaganda.

Text of the letter:

Senate Committee Moves Carbon Market Bill Backed by Industrial Agriculture Titans Closer to Passage

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 23 Apr 2021 16:55:00 GMT

On Thursday, Earth Day 2021, the Senate Agriculture Committee unanimously approved by voice vote the Growing Climate Solutions Act of 2021 (S. 1251), which would expand voluntary agricultural carbon sequestration markets under private control.

“On Earth Day, our committee came together in a bipartisan way to pass the Growing Climate Solutions Act,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.). “This brings us one step closer to providing more opportunities for farmers and foresters to lead in addressing the climate crisis and also benefit from new streams of income.”

The legislation was introduced by Stabenow and Mike Braun (R-Ind.) with the support of the biggest corporations in industrial agriculture, including Cargill, Bayer, McDonald’s, Archer Daniels Midland, General Mills, and Syngenta, as well as Big Ag lobbying groups like the American Farm Bureau and the US Chamber of Commerce. Corporate-funded-and-allied environmental organizations like the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, Climate Leadership Council, and the Environmental Defense Fund are also supporting the bill.

Agribusiness has contributed $2,546,199 to Stabenow and $367,483 to Braun over their careers.

The bill now has 42 co-sponsors in the Senate, ranging from climate hawk Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) to climate denier Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.).

Companion legislation was introduced yesterday in the House of Representatives by Reps. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) and Don Bacon (R-Neb.). Agribusiness has contributed $198,675 to Spanberger and $478,040 to Bacon over their careers.

Other original co-sponsors of the House bill are Reps. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.), Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), Jim Baird (R-Ind.), John Katko (R-N.Y.), and Josh Harder (D-Calif.).

Advocates for small farmers, sustainable agriculture, and aggressive climate action criticized the legislation. In 2020, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy’s Tara Ritter explained how the bill works:

Although farmers should be incentivized to adopt practices that boost resilience and sequester carbon, carbon markets have a failed and wasteful track record compared to public investments in proven conservation programs. This bill would tee up a framework incentivizing false solutions to climate change that benefits private companies over farmers. . .

Voluntary carbon markets are privately-run schemes that pay farmers for carbon sequestered in their soils to generate carbon credits. Then, the company running the carbon market sells those credits to other companies or individuals interested in reducing their carbon footprint. Companies such as Indigo Ag and Nori are starting up voluntary carbon markets, claiming that they will increase farm profits while addressing climate change, all without imposing government regulations on farmers. Yet, Indigo Ag also plans to sell farmers proprietary seed coatings and collect farm data, raising questions of who will benefit most. Unsurprisingly, some of the biggest backers of these schemes are large agribusiness companies, including ADM, Bunge, Cargill and more, that will be able to generate, buy and sell carbon credits to boost their profits and greenwash their own operations.

The Growing Climate Solutions Act sets up a weak verification system for the markets. The system relies on third-party entities to both provide technical assistance and verify the carbon credits. Allowing an entity to both consult on best practices and certify adherence to those practices could lead to conflicts of interest. In addition, verifying entities may self-register in the program simply by notifying USDA that they will “maintain expertise in and adhere to the standards published.” This type of self-reporting will almost certainly be abused, and without strict enforcement it will weaken the results of already flawed carbon markets.

Jason Davidson, Senior Food and Agriculture Campaigner for Friends of the Earth, responded to the committee’s approval of the bill:

We already have policies that will help farmers enhance soil health, protect biodiversity, and combat the climate crisis without perpetuating environmental injustice. Carbon markets have failed to reduce emissions and failed to provide opportunities for America’s family farmers.

Ecologically regenerative farming should be incentivized in addition to, and not instead of, carbon reductions in the energy sector. We should increase incentives for organic transition and heavily invest in existing successful USDA conservation programs while retooling them to help producers sequester carbon. Congress should support existing USDA technical assistance programs rather than outsource them to polluting agribusiness giants like Bayer. Family farmers should be supported in these efforts with structural reforms that ensure fair markets and fair prices, rather than creating more false promises of new markets that will predominantly benefit Big Ag.

“There are better bills on the table to meet the goals of maximizing soil carbon sequestration and reducing emissions from agriculture,” Ritter wrote, “including Representative Chellie Pingree’s (D-Maine) Agriculture Resilience Act and Senator Cory Booker’s (D-N.J.) Climate Stewardship Act.”

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