July 2, 2009
The U.S. House of Representatives narrowly passed a sweeping climate change bill late last week that will significantly change the way Americans use and produce energy.
The American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES), which passed on a 219-212 vote, now moves to the Senate, where experts predict another battle.
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (Minn.) won support for his amendment to make the bill more favorable to agriculture.
Under the legislation passed by the House, the agriculture and forestry sectors are clearly exempt from the bill's greenhouse gas emission reduction requirements, which means that farmers, ranchers and forestland owners will not be subject to the greenhouse gas emissions cap, Peterson said in a statement.
The bill establishes an offset program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture that will work to design and implement plans that reduce or avoid greenhouse gas emissions and sequester carbon. Farmers, ranchers and forestland owners will earn offsets for the actions, and they can sell their credits to utilities, refiners or other firms subject to limitations on greenhouse gas emissions.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates the bill in its current form would cost American households between $80 and $111 per year, which equals to 22 cents to 30 cents per day. A separate analysis from the Congressional Budget Office projected an annual cost of $175 for U.S. households by 2020.