Category Archives: CAP AND TRADE

Obama’s Latest ‘Cap and Trade’ Gambit

By Danette Clark     July 20, 2011

In an attempt to gain more control over privately-owned and public U.S. farmland, President Obama signed his 86th executive order last month, establishing the first ever White House Rural Council to Strengthen Rural Communities.

While expanding broadband access and outdoor recreational activities during a dangerous economic downturn may seem important to some (or none), what should be of more concern is the fact that this executive order is another attempt to implement a cap and trade system, whether we want it or not.

The Rural Council’s “key factors for growth” include promoting “the expansion of biofuels production capacity and community based renewable energy projects” and “expanding opportunities for conservation, outdoor opportunities and economic growth on working lands and public lands.”

The executive order fails to provide details on how the Rural Council intends to “identify and facilitate rural economic opportunities associated with energy development.”

However, the appointment of Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack as chair of the council tells us everything we need to know.

Just one day before Obama established the Rural Council, the USDA announced that “Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack approved about $7.4 million to fund nine large-scale greenhouse gas mitigation projects in 24 states” through the USDA’s Conservation Innovation Grants. Another $10 million is being provided by the USDA’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program.

Greenhouse gas mitigation simply means reducing carbon emissions, which environmentalists claim contribute to global warming. Under the cap and trade system previously proposed by the Obama administration, farmers and ranchers would theoretically make money by reducing carbon emissions and selling their carbon credits to businesses with high green house gas emissions, such as coal powered plants. Power plants will suffer and likely fold under the expense of working under a cap on the amount of gases they will be allowed to emit. Farmers and ranchers who may profit from selling carbon credits will do so at a price.

The federal government has already begun taking control of privately-owned land by paying land owners to enter into 10-to-30-year contracts with the USDA whereby the owner agrees not to develop their land.

One example of the nine greenhouse gas mitigation projects approved by Tom Vilsack is the Ducks Unlimited Avoided Grassland Conversion Carbon Project, which offers carbon credit incentives to grassland producers for “retaining rangeland that may otherwise be converted to cropland.”

In other words, farmers are being paid to not grow corn, wheat and soybeans at a time when grain shortages and food inflation threats are looming.

Reasons for preserving grasslands and shrublands are unclear. The USDA describes grasslands as “vulnerable” although they admit that they “make up the largest land cover on America’s private lands” and “cover more than 525 million acres in the United States.”

Fortunately, in an effort to combat a possible grain shortage, U.S. farmers planted larger corn crops this year, which is expected to ease inflation and eliminate any possible corn shortage.

I, for one, enjoy seeing our capitalist system of supply and demand providing for the country without the “aid” of a rural council.

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