Debbie A Stabenow

Clean Energy Partnerships Act - Nov. 5, 2009

Debbie A Stabenow
November 05, 2009— U.S. Senate, Washington, DC
Congressional floor speech
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Mr. President, yesterday I introduced S. 2729, the Clean Energy Partnerships Act. I am proud to have as cosponsors for this bill Senator Max Baucus, Senator Amy Klobuchar, Senator Sherrod Brown, Senator Tom Harkin, Senator Mark Begich, and Senator Jeanne Shaheen, who has been working with me on the carbon conservation program after she introduced S. 1576, the Forest Carbon Incentives Program Act.

As we work toward creating a clean energy economy in America, we need a strategy that protects our environment while protecting and creating jobs and revitalizing our economy.

The bill I introduced yesterday is an important part of that strategy. By creating partnerships among manufacturing, utilities, agriculture, and forestry, we can reduce costs now to help transition to a clean energy economy tomorrow.

As we work to develop new technologies to reduce emissions in the future, we also need to find cost-effective ways to limit emissions in the short-term that do not cost us jobs. This bill is about creating a lower cost strategy to help us reach our emission reduction goals while protecting and strengthening our economy.

We can counteract, or offset, our current carbon emissions by investing in practices like sustainable agriculture and forestry projects that capture and store carbon. A ton of carbon is a ton of carbon. That is what this offset bill is all about.

For example, we can change farming practices through more efficient application of fertilizer, the use of cover crops, or by utilizing tillage practices, called ``no till farming.'' No-till farming reduces carbon emissions by leaving old plant matter buried underground. In contrast, conventional tilling moves old plant matter from last year's crop from under the soil to the top of the soil, where it decomposes and releases carbon into the atmosphere.

Improved forestry practices are another example of effective and scientifically-proven methods to help reduce carbon emissions. These practices must be a central component of any clean energy legislation. It is estimated that forests store up to 80 percent of above-ground carbon and nearly 70 percent of the carbon stored in the soil. Reducing deforestation, restoring forests, and better land management can all help reduce atmospheric carbon levels, not just in our country but around the world.

This bill also creates incentives to develop new technologies for reducing other greenhouse gas emissions. For example, methane is more than 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide and can be produced from landfills, coal mines, farms, natural gas systems and oil pipelines.

Equipment that can reduce or eliminate methane emissions can have a drastic impact on our environment. We can even use technologies that not only capture the methane but use it to generate cleaner electricity. That equipment can be designed and built right here in America, building on our innovative and manufacturing expertise to create good-paying jobs.

Not only will an offsets program help store carbon, it will also result in cleaner water, more wildlife habitat, and reduced costs for business and agriculture. That is why this legislation has the broad support of organizations and leaders in agriculture, forestry, conservation, utilities and manufacturing, including National Milk Producers Federation; National Farmers Union; National Corn Growers Association; National Cattlemen's Beef Association; American Farmland Trust; National Alfalfa & Forage Association; Dow Chemical Company; Duke Energy; American Electric Power; PG&E Corporation; Dominion; John Deere; Business Council for Sustainable Development; Coalition for Emission Reduction Projects; Generators for Clean Air; National Association of Forest Owners; American Forest Foundation; Binational Softwood Lumber Council; Conservation Forestry; First Environment, Inc.; Forest Guild; Hardwood Federation; Lyme Timber Company; Maine Forest Service; National Alliance of Forest Owners; National Association of State Foresters; National Association of University Forest Resource Programs; National Hardwood Lumber Association; Society of American Foresters; Weyerhaeuser; The Nature Conservancy; Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies; and Trust for Public Land.

The legislation I introduced yesterday creates partnerships between our agricultural and manufacturing industries, protecting jobs and revitalizing our economy. It is estimated that strong agriculture and forestry offsets could be worth up to $24 billion annually to our economy. If the right clean energy policies are put in place, we have the opportunity to make this work for manufacturing and agriculture and create jobs.

Manufacturing in America created the middle class and is the backbone of our economy. We cannot have an economy if we aren't making things in this country--so any energy bill we pass must protect our industries, protect jobs, and protect our American middle class.

By creating partnerships between manufacturers and agriculture, we can link up the people who ``bring home the bacon'' with the people who actually make the bacon.

By allowing our manufacturing industries to offset their carbon emissions with savings made by sustainable agriculture and forestry practices, we can create a real win-win situation for America's economy.

In my home State of Michigan, we know how to make things and grow things. We know that to reach the clean energy future, we must link our manufacturing expertise with our agricultural expertise. Supported by some of the finest research universities in the world, we are already making key investments in clean energy technology that will reinvigorate our economy, create jobs, and protect our environment for the next generation.

That is what this bill is all about. We still have a long way to go in creating a clean energy bill that makes sense for our manufacturing and agricultural industries. But this bill is an important step toward reaching a balanced approach to energy legislation that respects our environment while also respecting the men and women who build things and grow things in this country.

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