Booker eyes farm conservation, reforestation and wetlands restoration in climate plan

Booker eyes farm conservation, reforestation and wetlands restoration in climate plan
© Aaron Schwartz

Presidential hopeful Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerPatrick backs reparations in unveiling 'Equity Agenda for Black Americans' Booker ahead of Trump impeachment trial: 'History has its eyes on us' Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers gear up for Senate impeachment trial MORE (D-N.J.) on Thursday unveiled new legislation to combat climate change with a focus on farm conservation, reforestation and wetlands restoration.

The Climate Stewardship Act of 2019, which Booker says is inspired by President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, would work to support voluntary climate stewardship practices on over 100 million acres of farmland, plant more than 15 billion trees to tackle deforestation and expand urban tree cover, restore over two million acres of coastal wetlands and invest in renewable energy sources for farmers and rural small businesses.

Booker's legislation comes as the United Nations's panel of climate experts say the globe will need major changes in its land management practices, particularly across the agriculture sector, to stave off global warming. 


“In order to address the urgent and existential threat posed by climate change, all of these approaches should be part of our broader strategy. In addition to transitioning from fossil fuels to clean energy, another essential step that we must take is to increase the carbon sequestration in our soils, forests, and wetlands,” Booker said.

“This legislation will not only reduce emissions and substantially increase carbon sequestration, but will also create hundreds of thousands of new jobs, enhance biodiversity by restoring tens of millions of acres of habitat, and make our farms more resilient and competitive.” 

Rep. Deb HaalandDebra HaalandHaaland, Davids included in 'Jeopardy' clue for historic first as Native American congresswomen Pelosi announces Porter, Haaland will sit on Oversight panel Overnight Energy: House Dems propose halt to drilling on public lands | Former Van Drew staffers land jobs at Energy committee | Defense bill passes without key measures on 'forever chemicals' MORE (D-N.M.), chairwoman of the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands, will introduce companion legislation in the House.

Like many other Democrats running for president, Booker has highlighted the urgency of mitigating the impacts of climate change, saying he would make it a priority in his administration.

The New Jersey Democrat cited recent reports identifying tree planting and ecosystem restoration as effective tools in mitigating climate change and detailing how farmers could bear the brunt of its effects, particularly in reductions to crop yields.

“After another year of extreme weather, no one understands the impacts of climate change better than our family farmers and ranchers,” he said. “While our farmers face unique impacts from climate change, our farmers are also uniquely positioned to capture and store carbon in the ground, produce clean energy, and to reduce emissions.”

Booker rolled out praise for the legislation from several agricultural groups, in an effort to help gin up support for the legislation ahead of its introduction. 

“Farmers need only look out our back doors to see how climate change is having a dramatic effect on our way of life,” said Wes Shoemyer, Family Farm Action board member and a Missouri farmer. “FDR knew in the 1930s that family farmers were the backbone of our rural economy and the best stewards of our natural resources. I'm excited that Senator Booker is taking a similar approach with the Climate Stewardship Act.”

The move comes on the heels of Booker rolling out an environmental justice proposal in April, saying that it was time to address regulatory practices at the Environmental Protection Agency. It also follows a proposal from 2020 competitor Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenSanders joins Biden atop 2020 Democratic field: poll The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Hillary Clinton tears open wound with her attack on Sanders MORE (D-Mass.), who on Thursday rolled out her own plan for dealing with climate change through agriculture.

Rebecca Beitsch contributed reporting.