As Americans want to buy more “clean” and “green” products, the market has been finding solutions to provide them.
The Growing Climate Solutions Act before us, however, will not. Though it seeks to “aid” the carbon credit market, it will ultimately serve only to quell it.
Let’s take a look at just how the carbon credit market currently works.
Farmers, ranchers, and private foresters develop these credits to sell by taking actions to either limit their greenhouse gas emissions, or capture greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere.
They work with “technical assistance providers” to know how to do so, and then with “third party verifiers” who make sure that the proper standards are met.
Companies can then purchase the credits to offset their carbon emissions, and they can also sell unused credits to other companies wanting to offset their carbon emissions.
It’s a voluntary exchange, and an example of the market working as it ought to.
As the demand for these credits grows, more farmers, ranchers, and foresters would explore this revenue generating market; more technical assistance providers and third-party verifiers would emerge; and potentially, innovation would occur with new types of entities emerging to create and sell carbon credits beyond these initial three.
So what would the bill do? It would establish a USDA certification program for the technical assistance providers and third-party verifiers involved in creating carbon credits, on the grounds that it would help small farmers better understand the carbon credit market and know with whom they may work.
In other words, it would create a massive accreditation program that would hamper, not foster, innovation. It would insert the federal government into a market that is blossoming on its own, imposing burdensome regulation and picking winners and losers in the carbon credit marketplace.
To make matters worse, it corrupts the financial incentives of the market by allowing the USDA to cap revenues and generally regulate the sale of credits.
Though it aims to help small farmers to participate in this market, it could easily be manipulated to demand the USDA set unusually high protocols and qualifications, and then drive carbon credit purchasers solely to credit sellers working with those that fit the federal government’s edicts.
This will ultimately only impose obstacles for farmers, ranchers, and foresters; impede potential new participants; and in the end, hurt the environment.
That’s why I am offering an alternative. My amendment would transform this program into a transparent informational resource for farmers, ranchers, and private foresters as they look for technical assistance providers and third-party verifiers.
It would include common qualifications and common practices of these entities; and a list of providers and verifiers that they could reach out to for assistance.
Mr./Madam President, the federal government ought to get out of the way for the carbon credit market to continue innovating and thriving – not squash it.
To that end, I urge my colleagues to support this amendment.