PF, DU, others high on ‘climate change’ bill OK’d by House

Washington – Several noted conservation groups this week had
high praise for a “climate change” bill passed last week by the
U.S. House of Representatives. The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation
Partnership said the bill, aimed at combating climate change,
“includes funding for federal and state management practices that
would sustain fish and wildlife populations.”

The American Clean Energy and Security Act that passed narrowly,
219-212, however, was not without critics, many of whom say
households could see dramatic increases in utility costs. Minnesota
Gov. Tim Pawlenty told CNN last weekend that the cap-and-trade
emissions regime in the bill could send U.S. jobs overseas.

The bill is supported by President Barack Obama, who shortly
after the House vote suggested the Senate should do the same.

“It’s a bold and necessary step that holds the promise of
creating new industries and millions of new jobs, decreasing our
dangerous dependence on foreign oil and strictly limiting the
release of pollutants that threaten the health of families and
communities and the planet itself,” Obama said in a statement.

Keys to the legislation are reductions in greenhouse gas
emissions and reductions in foreign energy dependency.

Like farmers who employ new environmental techniques, forest
owners and others could gain money through “offsets,” by
cooperating with the nation’s polluting companies. The bill creates
a “Natural Resources Climate Change Adaptation Fund” that “helps
federal and state agencies safeguard fish and wildlife and charges
the U.S. Department of Agriculture with implementing agriculture
and forestry carbon offset projects, including conservation
programs,” according to the TRCP.

Such funded adaptation strategies would “minimize the effects of
climate change on fish and game species,” the TRCP press release
says. Further, the groups said funding “must be designated and
incentives set to sustain and expand habitat on farms, ranches, and
forest lands.”

Pheasants Forever’s Dave Nomsen sees potential in the
program.

“Sportsmen support the House passage of this important
legislation and appreciate the (USDA) being given oversight of
agriculture and forest carbon dioxide offset projects, including
conservation programs,” said Nomsen, vice president of government
affairs for PF and Quail Forever, in a press statement. “Our nation
must build upon gains in soil, water, and wildlife conservation and
strengthen programs that provide carbon sequestration and habitat
enhancement. America’s farmers, ranchers, and forestland owners
have the potential to make great contributions to solving the
climate issue, and the USDA should take charge of delivering these
climate-based programs to private landowners.”

Beyond fish and wildlife, the bill is expected to stimulate the
alternative energy industry, including wind, solar, and others.
Besides federal stimulus dollars, they can expect to receive
investment dollars, as utilities and power companies are forced to
cut carbon emissions.

The legislation would require the United States to reduce carbon
dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent from 2005
levels by 2020, and by 83 percent by mid-century.

In 2007, Ducks Unlimited’s science staff produced a report that
outlined potential impacts of climate change on waterfowl. The
report called the impacts “serious,” and last week the group hailed
the House legislation as a bill “that would in part mitigate the
effects of climate warming.”

“Most importantly, from Ducks Unlimited’s perspective, (the
bill) will assist with the protection and restoration of fish and
wildlife species, habitats, ecosystems, and ecological processes
threatened by climate change,” according to a DU press release.

Critics of the bill range from those who either doubt the
impacts of climate change, or who don’t believe the bill will do
enough to address it, citing the need to work with other
industrialized nations to make an impression. Still others say the
cost exceeds the benefits.

Experts agree the cost to the average homeowner would increase
as utilities attempt to raise rates and invest in cleaner, more
expensive, energy sources. What’s debateable is the cost of the
increase.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and the
Environmental Protection Agency both issued estimates of how the
climate bill would affect energy costs. The CBO estimated the cost
at $175 a year for the average household; the EPA forecasts $80 to
$110 a year.

The American Petroleum Institute disputed both estimates, saying
the bill could cost the average household up to $3,300 by 2020.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

DU, Sportsmen’s Alliance, like federal hunting bill

Both Ducks Unlimited and the U.S. Sportmen’s Alliance early this
week issued statements of support regarding new federal legislation
that they say would protect America’s hunting heritage.

The “Hunting Heritage Protection Act” consists of Senate
legislation sponsored by Republican Saxby Chambliss, of Georgia,
and House legislation introduced by Rep. Denny Rehberg, a
Republican from Montana.

According to the Sportmen’s Alliance, “Both pieces of
legislation require that federal land be managed in a way that
supports, promotes, and enhances access for hunting and mandates
that an annual report be submitted to Congress detailing any
limitations that are imposed on hunting federal lands.

“It also will require a written notification be given to
Congress prior to any agency action that limits hunting on large
parcels of federal land consisting of 5,000 or more acres,” the
USSA says.

Bart James, DU’s director of public policy, said waterfowlers
have been “supporting federal lands through duck stamp sales for 75
years.

“We welcome this effort to ensure that hunting remains a part of
America’s conservation legacy,” he said in a press statement.

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