RICHMOND – Politicians love to campaign about environmental protection, but after an election many wonder what is happening in Richmond and DC to actually introduce conservation practices.
To answer this question, Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D – VA) and Karla Loeb, Chief Policy and Development Officer of the energy technology provider Sigora Solar, participated in a Conservation Voter City Hall Virginia league Thursday afternoon. Both agree that Virginia and the country as a whole are making progress in promoting environmentally sound industrial practices.
“Despite some setbacks we saw during the pandemic, clean energy continues to grow very quickly,” said Spanberger.
Expansion of access to voluntary CO2 markets
The Virginia 7th District representative chairs the House Conservation and Forestry Subcommittee. In that role, she says, this year she will focus on four laws that encourage U.S. farmers to adopt natural climate solutions.
One of those bills is the Law on growing climate solutions. This bill, proposed by Senator Mike Braun (R-IN), removes barriers for farmers wishing to participate in voluntary environmental credit markets.
These markets are for farmers, ranchers and private forest owners who voluntarily undertake to comply with carbon dioxide limits. If they produce less than their set limit, they can sell their allocation to other participating companies.
Incentives for farmers to use nature conservation strategies
Spanberger also spoke about that Law on Healthy Soils, Resilient Farmers, which it will reintroduce later this year. The bill would add flexibility to existing Farm Service Agency loans to help new farmers adopt conservation practices. If passed, these loans could cover the cost of catch crops, organic production and grazing for farmers.
“There is such a risk for farmers who may be looking for new methods,” said Spanberger.
The Congresswoman also raised the Climate Protection Act in her remarks on Thursday. The bill, which she and Senator Cory Booker (D – NJ) reintroduced in April, creates incentives for farmers to implement climate-friendly practices. If passed, this law would also encourage farmers to step up their afforestation practices. And it would establish a national scholarship program for Coastal and Estuary Resilience.
Another pending bill on its way to their committee could significantly reform USDA guidelines Rural Energy Program for Americasaid Spanberger. This program creates loans for farmers and rural small businesses to invest in renewable energy. She says that in order to help smaller farms some changes are needed.
“The way it is currently structured, too many farmers have told me that the cost sharing elements are really very burdensome for small family businesses,” said Spanberger.
Clean Energy Efforts in the Commonwealth
Loeb spoke on Thursday about her company’s advocacy to help pass the Virginia Clean Economy Act.
Key highlights of the law include new measures to promote energy efficiency, setting a timetable for the decommissioning of old fossil fuel power plants, and stipulating that the Commonwealth’s electricity grid must be 100% renewable within the next three decades.
“We took Virginia with us in one fell swoop, moving us from less than one percent clean energy to 100 percent clean energy in the power sector by 2050,” said Leob.
But an energy innovation report last year said the legislation “will not achieve the emissions reductions needed to keep Virginia on the.” Intergovernmental Committee on Climate ChangeThe way we recommend limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius in order to ensure a safe future climate. “
Aila Boyd is a freelance reporter for Dogwood. You can reach them at [email protected].