Few Emissions Credits Likely for Ag in Climate Change Bill

Citing changes in farm practices and energy policy, analysts at the Environmental Protection Agency have sharply lowered estimates of the potential carbon credits for which farmers and landowners would likely qualify, according to the Des Moines Register. This could make it difficult to sell a climate change bill to farm-state members of the House and Senate. According to EPA, there will be very few if any emission credits for agricultural practices. In its analysis of the Waxman-Markey climate change bill, EPA estimated that the carbon credits from agriculture and forestry likely won’t exceed 300 million tons until after 2040. The EPA in 2005 estimated that farm practices and forestry programs could reduce carbon emissions by nearly 700 million metric tons annually, with 25 percent of those savings coming from keeping crop residue in the soil through reduced tillage. That estimate assumed the credits would be worth about $15 a ton, which is in the range of what is projected. The 2005 estimates were based on a study of farm practices in the late 1990s. Since then farmers have reduced tillage considerably in response to higher fuel prices, and that means much of the potential reduction in carbon emissions that the EPA forecast in 2005 has already been made.