Peterson to farmers: Lobby for change now
WASHINGTON -- House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said July 21 that farmers should try to convince the Senate Agriculture Committee to fix any remaining problems with the climate change bill because it is very popular i...
WASHINGTON -- House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said July 21 that farmers should try to convince the Senate Agriculture Committee to fix any remaining problems with the climate change bill because it is very popular in urban America and may become law.
In a speech to the American Soybean Association, Peterson said that at a recent event in Olivia, Minn., he saw "a great big white sign" reading "Global warming is baloney." Peterson said that sign sums up the feeling in his district, but that farmers need to be aware that 65 percent of Americans support action on global warming.
"Like many things, we've lost the war," Peterson said.
Scientists, he noted, have reached consensus that global warming is a problem and the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency can use the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon emissions.
Peterson said the EPA already is regulating cars and that there are lawsuits lined up to force the agency to regulate other sources of emissions.Peterson said he expects EPA to go after livestock producers and, eyeing the soybean producers, said, "They'll get to people like you."
Peterson said he is catching a lot of criticism at home regarding his role in negotiating the climate change bill because his constituents who listen to Rush Limbaugh blame him for its passage.
"People holler, but I'll survive," he said. "It's not realistic to say we're not going to do anything."
The House already has passed a climate change bill, which calls for a 17 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2020 and provides allowances for certain industries. The bill does not require farmers and ranchers to reduce emissions, and it includes a number of programs to benefit farmers, including a carbon sequestration program run by USDA through which farmers could sell credits earned for production practices such as no-till farming.
The Senate is holding hearings on the bill during July and is scheduled to begin markup on a bill in early September. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has said markup should be completed by late September. President Obama wants the bill on his desk before he goes to a United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December.
Peterson noted that he was able to negotiate the cap and trade program and other changes in the bill when House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., did not have the votes to pass it. Peterson said Waxman gave him almost everything on his list and that he then decided he had to support the bill.
Peterson said despite the estimates of the effects of higher gasoline and fertilizer costs that could come from the emissions cap, he thinks some farmers may earn more than the increase in costs.
The House bill, he said, will be "the bottom starting point" in the Senate.
One of the House provisions with which Peterson is most pleased is the ban on any EPA analysis of the impact of the U.S. renewable fuels industry on land use in other countries for five years while a National Academy of Sciences study of the methodology is done. After it is completed, USDA and EPA both agree to the analytical framework of the analysis and if the agencies agree, Congress could stop the analysis.
Under the 2007 energy, EPA is supposed to undertake an analysis of the what impact the U.S. renewable fuels would have on other countries, but Peterson says that using current methodology "would be the death of ethanol and biofuels" in the United States, Peterson said.
Peterson said he doesn't know how Congress could stop EPA's analysis of indirect land use if the climate change bill doesn't pass. Many analysts have questioned whether the Senate will finish the bill, but Peterson said the need to stop EPA from undertaking that analysis "could be part of the pressure in the Senate" to pass the bill.