Overnight Energy: Warren plan would pay farmers to fight climate change | Six states sue EPA over pesticide linked to brain damage | UN panel to unveil report on agriculture's effect on climate

Overnight Energy: Warren plan would pay farmers to fight climate change | Six states sue EPA over pesticide linked to brain damage | UN panel to unveil report on agriculture's effect on climate
© Greg Nash

PAYING FARMERS TO FIGHT CLIMATE CHANGE: Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenMark Cuban: ProPublica 'not being honest' about taxes on wealthy On The Money: Bipartisan Senate group rules out tax hikes on infrastructure | New report reignites push for wealth tax New report reignites push for wealth tax MORE (D-Mass.) would pay farmers to fight climate change if elected president under a new policy proposal released Wednesday.

The White House hopeful's farm economy plan aims to jumpstart the agriculture sector by, in part, incentivizing the community to invest in sustainable farming practices. 

"As President, I will lead a full-out effort to decarbonize the agricultural sector by investing in our farmers and giving them the tools, research, and training they need to transform the sector," Warren wrote.

Warren added that by working with farmers, the U.S. would be better positioned to achieve the emissions-cutting objective of the Green New Deal: to reach net-zero emissions by 2030.


Why it matters: The agriculture sector is a top contributor to greenhouse gas emissions globally. Food production, deforestation and agriculture, which are all intrinsically linked, produce about 23 percent of all human-created greenhouse gas emissions across the world. In the U.S., agriculture is the source of 9 percent of all such emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The details: Through her plan, Warren would expand the Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Conservation Stewardship Program -- a voluntary program that compensates farmers for conservation-focused farming practices. Warren's plan would increase the current $1 billion investment in the program to $15 billion annually and increase the number of sustainable practices accepted under the program.

"This will put our future investment in conservation above the level we currently fund commodity programs. And I will support staff at USDA to empower them in the fight against climate change, from scientists in Washington all the way down to the county-level offices tailoring solutions to challenges in their local communities," Warren wrote.

Other climate-focused aspects of her plan include committing $400 billion toward research and development of green manufacturing -- another plan of Warren's. The plan invests in innovations for decarbonizing agriculture practices.

Read more on Warren's policy proposal here.


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STATES CHALLENGE EPA OVER PESTICIDE: Several states sued the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Wednesday over the agency's decision to allow further use of a pesticide linked to brain damage.

California, New York, Massachusetts, Washington, Maryland and Vermont argued in court documents that chlorpyrifos, a common pesticide, should be banned due to the dangers associated with it.

Earthjustice filed a similar lawsuit in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of groups advocating for environmentalists, farmworkers and people with learning disabilities.

"A chlorpyrifos ban is long overdue given the overwhelming evidence that says this pesticide harms brain development in children," Tracy Gregoire, a project coordinator at the Learning Disabilities Association of America, said in a statement. "We are hopeful the courts will side with children who are now being exposed to irreparable, yet preventable harm."

A controversial pesticide: Chlorpyrifos, known on the market as Lorsban, is used on a wide variety of crops, including corn and cranberries. Farmers have called it the last line of defense against certain insects.

But it has also been linked to learning and memory issues and prolonged nerve and muscle stimulation.

The EPA banned chlorpyrifos for household use in 2001 over concerns it would cause brain damage in children.

EPA's decision to allow continued use of chlorpyrifos came last month, the result of a court-ordered deadline to regulate the pesticide prompted by a lawsuit previously filed by Earthjustice.

EPA's response: The agency would not comment on the lawsuit but said those challenging the use of chlorpyrifos did not have enough data to demonstrate the product is not safe. The EPA said it would continue to review the safety of chlorpyrifos through 2022.

"Registration review is a comprehensive, scientific and transparent process that will further evaluate the potential effects of chlorpyrifos. EPA has also been engaged in discussions with the chlorpyrifos registrants that could result in further use limitations," the agency said in a statement to The Hill.

States argue that timeline is far too long.

Read the full story here.


THE NEXT BIG CLIMATE REPORT: On Thursday, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will release its latest report on climate change, this time focusing on the agriculture sectors influence on greenhouse gases.

The report is expected to provide warnings and suggestions to global leaders on ways to thwart emissions that emanate from land development and farming.


ICYMI: INTERIOR TOOK NOTES FROM FBI ON NEW FOIA POLICY: The Interior Department took notes from the FBI, which handles reams of classified material and is known as a slower responder to public records requests, while developing its controversial policy for Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, according to emails reviewed by The Hill.

Internal emails obtained through a FOIA request by Earthjustice and shared with The Hill show that Interior employees were eager to talk to FBI staff who oversaw FOIA requests as it sought to deal with its own mounting public records requests.

"I understand from my discussions with the US Attorney's Office in D.C. that the FBI's FOIA program and strategy in FOIA litigation is pretty much the 'gold standard,' " Rachel Spector, an official with Interior's Office of the Solicitor, wrote to an unnamed FBI official on April 14, 2018.

The emails show Interior was particularly interested in the FBI's "500-page per month policy," under which the FBI only releases 500 pages of requested material to each requester per month. That rule has routinely been challenged in courts with mixed success by advocacy groups who argue it skirts FOIA law.

The "500-page per month policy" did not become a part of Interior's new FOIA process, but critics say the discussions show the lengths to which the department went to try to find ways to not have to respond quickly to requests.

More on the controversy here.



-North Carolina beach has more than 40 rip current rescues in one day, officials say, The News and Observer reports.

-California seeking quake disaster assistance from feds, the Associated Press reports. 


ICYMI: Stories from this week...

-Six states sue EPA over pesticide tied to brain damage

-Warren would pay farmers to fight climate change under new plan

-Interior took notes from FBI while developing controversial FOIA policy

-New Mexico says EPA abandoned state in fight against toxic 'forever chemicals'

-USDA office move may have broken law, watchdog says

-Inslee hits campaign donation milestone in wake of debate boost

-House Democrats push investigation of Trump rollback of offshore drilling regs

-EPA submits final controversial car emissions rule to the White House

-Top climate change scientist quits USDA, says Trump administration tried to bury his study

-McDonald's says thicker paper straws can't be recycled

-San Francisco International Airport banning plastic bottle sales