"The bill also does nothing to provide alternative sources of energy to fill the energy deficit left by the reduction in fossil fuels, nor does it prevent the EPA from using controversial indirect land use principles that penalize ethanol."

Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, and California Sen. Barbara Boxer, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, last week released a long-awaited, 800-page climate change bill that largely focuses on carbon sequestration through a cap and trade system.

While environmentalists largely embraced the new bill, agriculture advocacy groups — who had pushed successfully for a more farm-friendly House bill that passed earlier this summer — quickly derided it.

While continuing to claim cap and trade would cause energy prices to sharply rise, agriculture advocates pointed out the Senate legislation would require more robust greenhouse gas emissions cuts: 20 percent by 2020 versus the House bill’s 17 percent.

Also of great concern to agriculture is that unlike the House bill, which put clear jurisdiction over a cap and trade system under the USDA, the Kerry/Boxer offering would move that jurisdiction to the president.

The new bill calls for total allowable offsets to be set at 2 billion tons annually. Further, apparently in a nod towards preventing fraud, the bill calls for a new Justice Department office tasked with ensuring — through sanctions, if necessary — that carbon credits are actually trapping problem gasses.

In addition, the Senate bill does not include provisions included in the House bill aimed at protecting the biodiesel industry from carbon standards passed in 2007.

“America’s farmers and ranchers did not fare that well in the House-passed climate change bill and they fare even worse in the Senate bill,” said Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF). “There are few benefits and even greater costs to agriculture and the American public.”

The House bill, continued Stallman, at least included credits “to farmers for carbon-storing or carbon management practices. The Senate bill does not guarantee any benefits to agriculture for carbon sequestration.”

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