In this file:
· Stabenow pledges focus on ag carbon as Dems prepare to take Senate
… poised to take back the chairmanship of the Senate Agriculture Committee pending the outcome of a Georgia runoff, says she would make it a “top priority” to facilitate establishment of an agricultural carbon market…
· Democrats win control of US Senate, boosting prospect of climate action
The Democratic party has won control of the US Senate, reports Climate Home News, “removing a huge potential roadblock to president-elect Joe Biden’s green investment plans”…
Stabenow pledges focus on ag carbon as Dems prepare to take Senate
Sen. Debbie Stabenow, who is poised to take back the chairmanship of the Senate Agriculture Committee pending the outcome of a Georgia runoff, says she would make it a “top priority” to facilitate establishment of an agricultural carbon market.
During interviews before a mob of protesters stormed the Capitol, Democrats expressed confidence Wednesday that they would win control of the Senate, although the race in Georgia between GOP Sen. David Perdue and Democrat Jon Ossoff was still too close to call.
If Ossoff wins, the Senate will be split 50-50, and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be able to break ties once she takes office Jan. 20. Democrat Raphael Warnock was earlier declared the victor in his runoff with Georgia's other GOP senator, Kelly Loeffler, a Senate Ag member.
Having control of the Senate will allow Democrats to decide which bills get considered on the floor and in committee, and make it significantly easier for President-elect Joe Biden to get his nominees confirmed and legislative priorities enacted.
Democrats also could use a legislative process under the Congressional Review Act to repeal some regulations implemented since August of the Trump administration.
“We certainly will be deciding ... what bills come to the floor, which is a dramatic difference, and as well as what bills are brought up before the committee,” Stabenow told a congressional pool reporter.
“As chair of the Agriculture Committee, we're going to lead an effort to create a voluntary climate exchange and ... climate climate policy for farmers and ranchers, and that's a top priority for me,” Stabenow said.
The Biden transition team is discussing the possibility of using USDA’s Commodity Credit Corp. to set up a carbon bank that could buy and sell ag carbon credits. Separately, Stabenow is co-sponsor of a bill called the Growing Climate Solutions Act that is aimed at accelerating carbon credit trading by authorizing USDA to certify verification services.
Arkansas Sen. John Boozman, who will become the top Republican on the Senate Ag Committee if Democrats control the Senate, has expressed some concerns about ag carbon trading, fearing it will primarily benefit the credit traders.
“We’re going to do all we can to work with them on every (policy) area that there is,” Boozman told Agri-Pulse. “On the other hand, whatever we are going to do is going to be governed by common sense and good science.”
But he said he expected to have the working relationship with Stabenow that former Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., has had.
It’s unclear what regulations that Democrats could attack with the CRA process.
“The likelihood of the CRA being used did just go up,” says Daniel Pérez, senior policy analyst at the George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center...
Democrats win control of US Senate, boosting prospect of climate action
Jan 7, 2021
The Democratic party has won control of the US Senate, reports Climate Home News, “removing a huge potential roadblock to president-elect Joe Biden’s green investment plans”. With the Democrats winning the two run-off elections to become senators for the state of Georgia, both parties will have 50 senators each, the outlet explains, meaning Democratic vice-president Kamala Harris will have the casting vote on any tied votes. The newly elected senators “support Biden’s green spending plans, re-joining the Paris Agreement and reversing Trump’s cuts to environmental protections”, the outlet notes. It adds: “There are now enough Democratic senators to pass tax and spending bills, although they fall short of the 60 seats to filibuster-proof broader legislation.” For example, “the Senate also has power over the budgets of agencies like the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] and could reverse funding cuts under Democratic control”. The new balance of power would “also make it easier for Mr Biden’s cabinet appointees to win confirmation”, explains the New York Times, “as well as for Democrats to increase the budgets of federal agencies and pump money into clean energy research and development”. The paper adds: “It also would greatly increase the likelihood that Congress would incorporate portions of Mr Biden’s $2tn climate plan into new economic stimulus legislation as well as an infrastructure package.” However, the paper notes, the tight margin in the Senate means “Democrats would still be forced to compromise with Republicans and would be limited in their ability to pass sweeping new laws”.
Axios also has a first look at the energy policy implications of a Democrat majority in the Senate. A Los Angeles Times editorial notes that Biden’s preference is to compromise “in any case”, adding: “Assuming Republicans are willing to reciprocate, there is potential common ground on priorities including additional stimulus, counteracting the damage caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, immigration and efforts to deal with climate change.” A Wall Street Journal editorial blames the run-off losses on President Trump’s “post-election tantrums”. It concludes: “We hope Republicans keep Mr Trump’s contribution to these defeats in mind over the next two years as their taxes and energy costs rise.”
In related news, E&E News reports that Biden’s transition team says the Trump administration has done more damage than anticipated to the government’s ability to address climate change. It continues: “Potentially lowering expectations for the incoming president’s early climate efforts, Biden officials say their agency review teams have found deeper budget cuts, wider staff losses and more systematic elimination of climate programs and research than they realised.” The New York Times reports that an “early Biden climate test” is already emerging. Yesterday, “two influential organisations that advocate for stronger measures to withstand natural disasters…filed a petition with the federal government urging more stringent building standards for homes and infrastructure along rivers and coasts”, the paper says. It explains:
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