In a speech at Georgetown University, President Barack Obama laid out plans that the Administration will pursue through existing authorities to reduce emissions and address climate change.

The existing Clean Air Act is considered by many to be an ill fit for regulating greenhouse gas emissions and actions the administration may take to limit emissions from new or existing power plants is likely to be challenged in court.

Of note to the agricultural community, the President’s climate strategy contains several initiatives intended to promote advanced biofuels and help farmers adapt to future growing conditions.

The plan includes the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) initiative to create a network of seven regional climate hubs to provide "tailored, science-based knowledge to farmers, ranchers and landowners" and help communities prepare for drought and wildfire by launching a National Drought Resilience Partnership and by expanding and prioritizing forest- and rangeland-restoration efforts to make areas less vulnerable to catastrophic fire.

The plan also says USDA will work with the Departments of Energy, Interior, Labor and Transportation as well as the Environmental Protection Agency to develop a strategy for controlling methane emissions.

The agencies will be addressing data gaps and identifying technologies and best practices for reducing emissions.

Some specific aspects of the proposal would:

• Make up to $8 billion in already approved loan guarantees available for advanced fossil and energy efficiency projects;

• Set a goal of doubling renewable energy generation by 2020;

• Initiate a second round of federal fuel economy and carbon standards for heavy-duty vehicles beyond 2018;

• Establish new federal energy efficiency goals – as well as new programs across multiple agencies for achieving them;

• Target other potent greenhouse gases, including hydrofluorocarbons and methane, which leak from oil and gas operations;

• Include multiple efforts to boost the resiliency of infrastructure to climate change.

 

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