Bipartisan Senate group introduces carbon credit bill related to forestry

The bill is intended to improve the process for landowners, farmers and ranchers

A bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate in June with bipartisan support intended to improve the process by which forest landowners, farmers and ranchers could sell carbon credits to join in efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The bill directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture to establish programs that assist landowners navigate existing markets and regulations. It encourages the development of new expertise and clearer communications about this market.

Sponsors of the bill include U.S. Sens. Mike Braun (R-IN), Debbie Stabbenow (D-MI), Sheldon Whitehouse (R-RI) and Lindsay Graham (R-SC). Braun and Stabbenow have leading roles in Senate committees that will have a voice in the legislation.

A statement from the sponsors said that the USDA would be directed to “publish a list and description of standards from widely used industry protocols for (greenhouse gas) credit markets, such as sampling methodologies, accounting principles, systems for verification, monitoring, and reporting, … to encourage sustainable, climate-friendly farming and forestry practices” and allow landowners to participate in the these markets on a voluntary basis.

Carbon credit markets have been in place for more than 15 years, but have typically been available only to large landowners because of the administrative complexity and monitoring costs. A goal of the legislation is to encourage arrangements and practice that allow small businesses and landowners to participate.

The largest carbon trading system is the European Trading System, but systems operated by South Korea and the State of California are also large players in this marketplace.

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