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Agriculture

Study Outlines Greenhouse Gas Benefits of Pending Farm Bill

October 24, 2007 5:51 PM | Posted by Nowell Berreth | Topic(s): Energy Policy, Agriculture

In a report released October 18, the Environmental Law and Policy Center suggests that farm-based renewable energy and energy efficiency programs in the Energy Title of the pending Farm Bill have the potential to displace greenhouse gas emissions by 57 million metric tons per year. The study, Mitigating Global Warming through the Farm Bill, aims to quantify the emissions benefits that would result from loan guarantees and grant programs if the proposed Energy Title becomes law and is funded at a level of $1 billion per year. The study concludes that the proposed grants and loan guarantees would spur significant investment in wind power, biofuels plants (producing corn-based and cellulosic ethanol as well as biodiesel), anaerobic digesters to reduce methane emissions, biomass and geothermal systems, solar power, and energy efficiency improvements.

EPA Establishes Farm, Ranch and Rural Communities Federal Advisory Committee

October 22, 2007 3:08 PM | Posted by Nowell Berreth | Topic(s): Federal Policy/Programs, Agriculture

On October 17, the EPA announced that it will soon be accepting nominations for approximately 25 members to serve on the newly-established Farm, Ranch and Rural Communities Federal Advisory Committee.  In announcing the formation of this Committee, EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson said, "We at EPA appreciate that agriculture isn't just the producer of the food, agriculture is the producer of environmental and economic solutions. This committee provides an opportunity to improve dialogue between EPA and the farming community. By sitting down at the same table, together we can do what's good for agriculture and good for our environment."

The Committee is set to meet twice a year and will consist of members representing farmers, ranchers, rural communities, academics, environmental and conservation groups, and others. It is charged with addressing three areas:  (1) the effects of EPA's climate change regulations and policies on agriculture, (2) environmental strategies for achieving superior environmental performance in livestock operations, and (3) approaches for advancing sustainable agriculture and environmental protection.

Senate Finance Committee Ties Extension of CTL Credit to CCS Requirement

October 5, 2007 9:22 AM | Posted by kipp.coddington@alston.com | Topic(s): Federal Policy/Programs, Agriculture

Yesterday, the Senate Finance Committee approved the chairman's mark of the "Heartland, Habitat, Harvest and Horticulture Act of 2007," which would be the tax title of the still-stalled agriculture bill.  The bill is notable for several reasons, including the fact that it extends the existing CTL credit of 50 cents per gallon of alternative fuel sold by the taxpayer for use as a motor fuel in a motor vehicle or motorboat, or so used by the taxpayer.  "Alternative fuel" includes LPG, P Series fuels, compressed or liquefied natural gas, liquefied hydrogen, liquid fuel derived from coal through the FT process, or liquid hydrocarbons derived from biomass.  The existing provision dealing with CTL expires in 2009.  The Committee extended the expiration date to 2010, but only for those facilities that sequester between 50% and 75% of their emissions.  Rentech and others have CTL-related facilities planned but it is unclear if they will come online in time to meet the 2010 date.  For more information, see http://www.senate.gov/~finance/sitepages/legislation.htm.

Farming for Carbon

October 3, 2007 11:14 AM | Posted by kipp.coddington@alston.com | Topic(s): Federal Policy/Programs, Agriculture

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) is circulating draft legislation for an energy title to the upcoming farm bill that is rich in GHG provisions.  The bill, for example, would create a new federal program that would pay farmers to produce biofuel feedstocks that are low in carbon content.  The assessment would be based upon a life-cycle analysis of the biofuel as compared against the petroleum-based fuel that the biofuel would be expected to displace.  This would appear to be the federal biofuels version of California's pending low carbon fuel standard.

The bill would also create an educational program on "the rules and earning potential of participating in private and public carbon trading systems."

Terrestrial sequestration is addressed, too, in that the legislation creates educational programs so that farmers can learn about the "sequestering ability of soil by region, plant type, soil type, cropping practices, and water availability" and "the soil and environmental benefits of carbon sequestration."