Climate Bill Debate Begins in Senate

Cindy Zimmerman

The U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee began debate on the so-called climate bill Tuesday with testimony from four top members of the Obama administration – U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson.

VilsackSecretary Vilsack testified discussed the importance of engaging farmers and ranchers in crafting the solution to this critical issue, and highlighted many potential economic benefits to rural communities in a cap and trade program.

“Rural landowners can benefit from incentives in climate and energy legislation that reward production of renewable energy such as wind and bioenergy,” said Vilsack. “A number of renewable energy technologies such as anaerobic digesters, geothermal, and wind power can reduce farmers’ reliance on fossil fuels. In cooperation with the Department of Energy, USDA will contribute to promoting these technologies and our outreach and extension networks will need to help make them available to farmers, ranchers, and land managers.”

One of the most contentious moments of today’s testimony came when Administrator Jackson confirmed an EPA analysis showing that unilateral action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions would have no effect on climate without action by China and India. Secretary Chu disagreed with EPA’s analysis.

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