Groups Respond to Obama Climate Change Plan

(NAFB)--After President Obama outlined the administration’s comprehensive plan to address climate change in remarks at Georgetown University - several groups responded.

National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson commends the President for taking a proactive approach to addressing ways to combat the effects of climate change. He says mitigating and adapting to climate change has long been a significant concern to NFU’s membership and will be a defining trend that shapes the world. Johnson notes objectives for the President’s plan include reducing carbon pollution, ramping up renewable energy production, preparing the U.S. for the impacts of unavoidable climate change and leading the rest of the world around combating climate change. Johnson says farmers will be one of the first groups to suffer as extreme weather phenomena multiply with dire results for our capacity to feed the population. He says we can’t afford to waste more time - America needs to act now to ensure a sustainable future for agriculture here and around the world. Johnson notes the ag sector holds tremendous potential to sequester carbon. Given the proper incentives - he says the nation’s farmers and ranchers can play a significant role in mitigating the effects of climate change.

NFU adopted policy that favors a market-based approach to addressing climate change that includes a mandatory cap on non-farm sources of carbon pollution and provides positive incentives for agriculture to participate in a solution to climate change.


The Renewable Fuels Association points out that the Climate Action Plan unveiled by the President highlights the importance of the Renewable Fuel Standard. The plan notes biofuels have an important role to play in increasing our energy security, fostering rural economic development and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector. It states that is why the Administration supports the RFS and is investing in research and development to help bring next-generation biofuels on line. RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen agrees with President Obama and says there is perhaps no better example of a proven successful climate change energy policy than the RFS. Dinneen notes the RFS has helped reduce the nation’s dependence on environmentally hazardous petroleum while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 to 50-percent when directly compared to gasoline. He says the RSF is delivering demonstrable environmental benefits and fuel choice to drivers, supporting nearly 400-thousand jobs domestically and stimulating investment in new renewable fuel innovations that promise even greater benefits.

Advanced Ethanol Council Executive Director Brooke Coleman says the advanced ethanol industry stands behind the Obama Administration in the effort to address climate change. Coleman says the President is right to identify the Renewable Fuel Standard and existing federal regulations as critical to the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector. However - the AEC notes climate action isn’t just about average global temperature. Coleman says it’s also important to talk about a global race to commercialize next generation fuels as conventional oil become increasingly scarce and new unconventional reserves only come online at considerable expense. Not only is inaction irresponsible from a climatological perspective - Coleman says it puts the U.S. further behind in the global race to develop new energy industries, create new American jobs and ensure high and volatile gas prices don’t continue to paralyze economic growth.

A progress report recently released by the AEC demonstrates the commercial progress of the advanced biofuels industry. The report shows that the cellulosic biofuels industry is reaching commercial deployment just five years after the passage of the RFS and notwithstanding the global economic downturn. The AEC notes maintaining the RFS and removing inequities from the federal tax code favoring the development of fossil fuels are critical to the ongoing development of low carbon, renewable fuels. Coleman says we need Congress to establish a path and stick to it. Coleman says the ongoing politicization of the issue just means clean energy industries are going to build their new facilities on Chinese or Brazilian soil instead of in the U.S.

National Biodiesel Board Vice President of Federal Affairs Anne Steckel says the President’s plan makes clear that breaking our dependence on fossil fuels is a key part of the equation in addressing climate change. She says biodiesel can help do that in a practical, cost-effective way. Steckel notes biodiesel is the first EPA-designated Advanced Biofuel to reach one-billion gallons of annual production. The 4.6-billion gallons of biodiesel used since 2005 have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 74-billion pounds. That’s the same impact as removing 5.4-million passenger vehicles from America’s roadways. Steckel says we can continue that progress by strengthening renewable fuels requirements in the coming years - while at the same time creating jobs and reducing our dependence on imported fuels.

The nation’s leading farm and ranch land conservation group says the agricultural sector has the opportunity to help address the causes and consequences of climate change. American Farmland Trust President Jon Scholl says our food production system is extremely vulnerable to climate change - but agriculture has tremendous capacity to mitigate and adapt to climate change through good conservation practices. According to Scholl - farmland protection coupled with sound conservation practices that improve agricultural land increases the ability of farmers and ranchers to withstand extreme weather events. But he says broad engagement is needed throughout the ag sector. With the right tools and incentives - Scholl says farmers can implement conservation practices that provide multiple environmental benefits - including healthier soils, improved water quality and cleaner air. To achieve the best results - he says we need more focused policies to support these goals.

AFT especially appreciates the recent climate-related announcements from USDA. Scholl says the vision outlined by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack will help provide greater focus through regional climate hubs, soil carbon assessment tools and improved cover crop guidelines. Scholl says AFT is committed to working with the White House, Congress and farm groups to find effective climate policy solutions.