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Senate easily passes bipartisan climate bill incentivizing carbon offsets

In a rare bipartisan move, the Senate voted 92-8 to pass a climate bill aimed at easing access for farmers to carbon markets so they can be incentivized for carbon offsetting processes. 

The House is now drafting its own version of the bill. 

The Growing Climate Solutions Act would create a new certification program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that would help farmers, ranchers and foresters make money by selling carbon credits in private sector programs, which they generate through cutting operations emissions or pulling more carbon dioxide from the air into the soil or plants. 

In a growing trend, many major corporations are looking to their environmental goals by purchasing carbon offsets. 

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The bill was introduced by Sens. Mike Braun, R-Ind., Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., and had over 55 co-sponsors, almost evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. 

“This legislation is a win-win,” Graham said in a statement. “The South Carolina farming community can have a tremendous impact in the area of carbon sequestration that will not only be beneficial to the environment but beneficial to those in the farming business and the public at large.”

The legislation was supported by both the American Farm Bureau Federation, which is not known to support climate legislation, and environmental groups like the Environmental Defense Fund and the Nature conservancy.

“Everyone in agriculture understands we have been and will continue to be the solution, not the problem when it comes to ensuring a cleaner, safer, and healthier environment,” Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., said in a statement.

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The carbon offset programs show “you that people are ready, willing to put their money where their mouths have been to try to reverse what’s happening to environment, to our atmosphere, and to climate in general,” Braun said in a news conference after the bill’s passage, according to Politico.  He said he’d heard from young conservatives, faith groups and farmers interested in fighting climate change. 

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