Capital Press

A draft proposal of a Senate bill addressing climate change shares some key provisions with a bill approved a year ago by the House of Representatives.

The American Power Act, proposed by Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., would invest in alternative-energy technology while curtailing emissions through a cap and trade program.

Both proposals exempt agriculture from the system's emissions caps, and both put USDA in charge of the program for developing carbon offsets, which could help the bottom lines ag producers.

The Senate proposal would reduce greenhouse gases by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, making it less aggressive than the House bill's 20 percent. But in the long run, both bills would reduce emissions 83 percent by 2050.

Both bills put USDA in charge of a program to support development and production of carbon offsets, a provision that Rep. Collin Peterson, who chairs the House agriculture committee, succeeded in transferring from the Environmental Protection Agency in the House bill.

In agriculture, production of offsets currently involves mostly tillage reduction in ranching and larger grain operations.

Both bills allow 2 billion offset credits annually. But the House bill allows half of them to come from offset projects in other countries; Kerry-Lieberman would require 75 percent to come from domestic projects.

The Senate proposal puts the Commodity Futures Trading Commission in charge of an offsets market; the House bill gives that authority to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

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