Friends of the Earth Reacts to the Reintroduction of the Growing Climate Solutions Act

WASHINGTON – Senators Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) introduced legislation this week to facilitate farmer participation in soil carbon markets.

The bill will help power plants, refineries, and other polluters to purchase carbon credits from farmers and other agricultural entities. The legislation is being touted as an agriculture-based climate solution by incentivizing farmers to sequester carbon in the soil. However, the credit scheme will allow polluters to offset their emissions, instead of reducing and eliminating them. Last fall, 222 farmer, farmworker, environmental justice, climate, environmental, faith-based, animal welfare, and other groups today wrote to Members of Congress to urge them to oppose to the bill.

Karen Orenstein, climate and energy director with Friends of the Earth, issued the following statement in response:

The ‘Growing Climate Solutions Act’ represents the opposite of a solution to the climate crisis. It would allow the fossil fuel industry to pollute as usual, line the pockets of Big Ag, and perpetuate environmental injustice within the U.S. and abroad. Less than a decade remains to keep global temperature rise to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. Greenhouse gas reductions must be absolute reductions without any possibility of offsets.

Jason Davidson, Senior Food and Agriculture Campaigner for Friends of the Earth, added:

We already have policies that will help farmers enhance soil health, protect biodiversity, and combat the climate crisis without perpetuating environmental injustice. Carbon markets have failed to reduce emissions and failed to provide opportunities for America’s family farmers.

Ecologically regenerative farming should be incentivized in addition to, and not instead of, carbon reductions in the energy sector. We should increase incentives for organic transition and heavily invest in existing successful USDA conservation programs while retooling them to help producers sequester carbon. Congress should support existing USDA technical assistance programs rather than outsource them to polluting agribusiness giants like Bayer.  Family farmers should be supported in these efforts with structural reforms that ensure fair markets and fair prices, rather than creating more false promises of new markets that will predominantly benefit Big Ag.

Communications contact: Kaela Bamberger, (202) 222-0703, [email protected].org 

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