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The Senate on Thursday passed bipartisan legislation aimed at granting farms access to carbon offset markets by a 92-8 vote.

The Growing Climate Solutions Act, introduced by Sens. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), next heads to the House. The measure would establish a Department of Agriculture certification process through which producers can generate and sell carbon credits.

The “no” votes were from a combination of the right wing of the Republican caucus and the left wing of the Democratic caucus: Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

Lee also proposed an amendment to the bill, which would remove the federal certification program for agriculture advisers and credit verifiers from the measure. Lee’s amendment was rejected 89-11.

“Farmers and foresters are already leading the way … through their many conservation efforts. They work to reduce their impact every day through conservation practices that cut down on emissions and store carbon in their soil and trees,” Stabenow said on the Senate floor Thursday. “According to the National Academies, scaling up these climate-smart agriculture and forestry practices in the U.S. could offset the annual emissions of nearly 110 million cars. The Growing Climate Solution is a key piece of the enormous potential that land-based solutions have to help solve this crisis.”

“Farmers have always led the way on protecting our environment, and the Growing Climate Solutions Act helps them get paid for their sustainable practices through voluntary carbon credit markets,” Braun said in a statement. “Hoosiers and Americans want real-world solutions, and Growing Climate Solutions is a bipartisan, common-sense, pro-jobs win that farmers, industry leaders, and conservationists can all support — all without growing our government or our deficit.”

Despite the bill’s bipartisan passage and the support of dozens of agricultural and environmental groups, carbon offsets are a controversial concept among conservationists. Opponents of the practice have argued it punts on emission reductions rather than actively cutting them.

Merkley echoed these criticisms in a statement explaining his vote, saying, “I applaud Chairman Stabenow and my Senate colleagues for their important work on addressing this crucial problem, but ultimately I don’t believe that an offset system that subsidizes corporations’ continued pollution in frontline communities is the best strategy. Let’s set incentives that reduce pollution in both agriculture and frontline neighborhoods.”
Tags Agriculture bill Bernie Sanders climate bill Cory Booker Debbie Stabenow Ed Markey Elizabeth Warren farming James Inhofe Jeff Merkley Josh Hawley Mike Braun Mike Lee
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