The Week Ahead: Senate to Move Forward on Farm Bill; Deadline for Rio+20 Text Looms


While the House recesses for a constituent work week, the Senate remains in session this week. The Senate Agriculture Committee will consider amendments to a farm bill, and other committees will take up energy issues related to taxes and China.  

Action on Farm Bill Expected

A farm bill that would provide more than $1 billion dollars in energy-related spending will be open for amendments this week, according to leaders of the Senate Agriculture Committee, who cautioned members against introducing proposals unrelated to the measure.

As detailed in a World Climate Change Reportarticle published May 25, the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act (S. 3240) would provide $800 million in mandatory spending on renewable energy programs over five years. It also would authorize about $1.2 billion in discretionary, nonmandatory funding for energy programs.

While committee chairwoman Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said it could take up to three weeks to complete, the committee's ranking Republican Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) said he hopes members can wrap up the bill by June 14.

The House version of the bill has yet to be unveiled by the House Agriculture Committee.

The current law authorizing farm programs expires Sept. 30. 

Taxes on Senate Finance Committee Agenda

The impact of tax reform on the nation's energy policy will be the subject of a Senate Finance Committee hearing June 12.

The hearing is part of a series the finance committee has been holding on revising the tax code, which has not had a major overhaul since 1986.

As detailed in a June 6 article, a dozen or so energy-related "tax extenders" expired at the end of 2011, including those for plug-in electric vehicles and the construction of energy-efficient homes. Many energy-related tax credits are set to expire soon, including a tax credit for wind projects at the end of 2012.

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Hearing

On June 14, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on on "Competitiveness and Collaboration Between U.S. and China on Clean Energy."

An April 4 article provides views by the Worldwatch Institute's Alexander Ochs, who warns that the U.S. risks falling behind China, India, and Germany in the clean energy race.

Deadline for Rio+20 Text Looms

U.N. preparatory talks are scheduled to be held June 13-15 in Rio de Janeiro for negotiators to complete the text for an agreement on sustainable development to be decided during the Rio+20 summit, which runs June 20-22.

As detailed in a June 4 article, Rio+20, formally called the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development, is not expected to produce landmark commitments in contrast with the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro that produced global agreements on climate change and other issues.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he hopes to get agreement on a text that provides a clear path for advancing economic development, expanding access to electricity, and increased environmental protections.

Climate Advisory Committee to Hold Public Meeting

The National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee will hold a public meeting June 14-15 in Washington, D.C., to discuss the status of draft assessments of current and future climate change impacts on the United States.

The assessments, which were due by June 1 by 30 teams of expert authors, will make up the next National Climate Assessment,which is expected to be published by late 2013.

The 2013 assessment is expected to focus on how adaptation and mitigation strategies can be implemented.

Other Climate, Energy Events

On June 11, dual reports on world trends in renewable energy investments and policies will be released by the U.N. Environment Program and the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century.

The Brookings Institution will hold a panel discussion June 12 in Washington, D.C., on "Campaign 2012: Climate and Energy." Brookings experts Ted Gayer, Katherine Sierra ,and Charles Ebinge will present policy recommendations to the next president.