BUSTOS ANNOUNCES RURAL GREEN PARTNERSHIP TO COMBAT CLIMATE CHANGE AND SPUR ECONOMIC GROWTH

Agriculture, labor and environmental advocacy groups praise Bustos’ Rural Green Partnership

VIDEO: Bustos Discusses Rural Green Partnership

MOLINE – Today, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) formally submitted a framework of principles and policies to combat climate change and spur economic growth – called the Rural Green Partnership – to the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. Rural economies in Illinois and across the country depend on a stable climate and consistent weather patterns, which makes tackling the issue of climate change a moral and economic imperative. Specifically, the Rural Green Partnership details a set of policies that work with federal, local and state governments, producers, businesses, unions, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other stakeholders to lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in every economic sector of rural America.

“Climate change may be the most complicated challenge our country has ever faced,” Congresswoman Bustos said. “But I intend to meet the challenge head on and give rural America – including the families in Northwest and Central Illinois – a seat at the table as we tackle the climate crisis. That’s why I submitted the Rural Green Partnership to the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. Rural America offers an enormous amount of potential to address climate change and is home to a wealth of resources that cannot be overlooked. The Rural Green Partnership helps mobilize our region to mitigate risk, increase resilience, incentivize new markets and create jobs as we work together to defeat the climate crisis.”

“Illinois Farm Bureau applauds Representative Bustos for the forward thinking nature of her Rural Green Partnership. IFB members believe that the best path toward addressing climate-related issues is one that seizes on the opportunity to promote rural economic growth, not one that imposes undo costs on farmers,” said Illinois Farm Bureau President Richard Guebert, Jr. “Illinois farmers have a great story to tell. We’re producing renewable energy on our land – wind, solar, and renewable fuels. And we’re capturing carbon in our soils. We look forward to working with Rep. Bustos and others to find innovative ways to build on what we’re already doing so we can further reduce greenhouse gas emissions, capture more carbon and increase clean energy opportunities and economic investment across rural America.”

“Rep. Bustos understands the climate crisis and its threat to families in rural America. Her plan empowers farmers and ranchers to access the latest technologies and advance conservation solutions that protect clean air and water,” said Callie Eideberg, Senior Policy Manager, Environmental Defense Fund. “Rural communities will play a pivotal role in putting the country on the path to a 100% clean economy by 2050. These are the strong policy priorities, grounded in the best-available science, that we need to meet this ambitious and necessary goal.”

“Having grown up in rural America and working daily with our members and employers throughout the United States, I know there is tremendous potential for rural communities to thrive and support a growing middle class,” said IBEW International President Lonnie R. Stephenson. “The Opportunity for Rural America, proposed by Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, presents an ambitious and achievable roadmap for rural communities to prosper while taking positive steps toward combatting climate change. With the country’s abundant supply of skilled workers and advanced technology, the Opportunity for Rural America would position the United States to take a critical role in the global clean energy movement, particularly in its support for carbon capture utilization and storage, modernization of the electric grid and electrification of the transportation sector.”

“Climate change is disrupting agriculture, peoples’ lives and communities, and environmental quality across rural America,” said Howard Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law and Policy Center. “We appreciate Rep. Bustos’ initiatives advancing renewable energy and storage development, energy efficiency improvements, better soil health and more efficient rural transportation services. All of these are important climate solutions that are good for the rural economy and good for the environment.”

“The Illinois Corn Growers Association looks forward to engaging with Congresswoman Bustos and other elected officials to spur economic growth in rural America through policies and programs that recognize the role farmers play in being a vital part of the solution to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Rodney Weinzierl, Illinois Corn Growers Association Executive Director. “We have a track record that proves how precision conservation management, corn-based ethanol, and soil health practices like cover crops can reduce the carbon footprint of agriculture while sequestering carbon emissions from other sources.”

“The Rural Green Partnership is a valuable contribution to combating climate change. Rural America needs a front and center seat at the climate change table and holds the opportunity to create high-quality, family and community-supporting jobs,” said James T. Slevin, National President, Utility Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO. “We appreciate the thoughtful work reflected in this new policy to create union jobs and usher in a low carbon future.”

Click HERE to read the letter submitted to the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis.

Click HERE to read the full text of the Rural Green Partnership.

BACKGROUND

The House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis was authorized by House Resolution 6 on January 9, 2019 to acknowledge the threat of climate change and publish a set of public recommendations by March 31, 2020. Its members include experts in environmental justice, coastal flooding, clean energy development and other issues that are vital for addressing the climate crisis.

Congresswoman Bustos submitted this plan to the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis following many discussions with stakeholders across Illinois. This year, Congresswoman Bustos continued to meet with generations of farm families – like her own – as they battled unprecedented flooding and weather, along with a reckless trade war. Farmers routinely expressed that this year’s conditions are unlike any they have ever seen, with flooded fields or crops arriving late – stunted or not at all. However, rural communities offer enormous potential to tackle climate change, which Congresswoman Bustos outlines in this proposal.

Below is an introduction to the Rural Green Partnership:

Combatting Climate Change: An Opportunity for Rural America

From agriculture to outdoor recreation, rural economies across the United States depend on a stable climate and consistent weather patterns. Combatting climate change is both a necessity in rural America and also an opportunity to reverse the economic headwinds which are widening the gap between rural communities and their urban counterparts. The unique opportunities for rural America stem from its vast land resources: 71% of U.S. territory (excluding Alaska) is privately-owned rural land where carbon can be sequestered in soils, vegetation and forests; where bio-based and renewable products — fuels, plastics and other renewable materials — can be grown and produced; where captured carbon dioxide can be stored deep underground or utilized in other ways; where wind farms and solar fields can be built on a large scale; and where a plethora of technical training schools like community colleges, tribal colleges, land-grant universities, union-registered apprenticeship programs and technical training colleges can prepare workforces that will grow rural economies while addressing climate change.

Goal

To capitalize on these opportunities, we propose a Rural Green Partnership — a set of policies that work with federal, local and state governments, local businesses, unions, producers, NGOs and other stakeholders to lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in every economic sector of rural America and spur economic growth.

Rural Green Partnership Framework

Five principles will guide Rural Green Partnership climate policies:

  1. Expand and improve conservation programs that are respected and well known to farmers, and explore new markets for ecosystem services that establish economic incentives to adopt conservation practices that increase resilience, sequester more carbon in soil, crops and forests, prevent erosion and can be scaled up quickly and efficiently.
  2. Invest in rural infrastructure that will form the foundation of new green economic growth: including faster broadband speeds so farmers can take advantage of GPS for precision agriculture, an expanded grid, green infrastructure and carbon dioxide pipelines to transport captured carbon to locations where it can be stored or utilized.
  3. Leverage zero and low interest loans, tax credits and grants to incentivize new clean energy development and innovations that drive down GHG emissions.
  4. Increase basic and applied research funding for farming practices and sustainable land uses, clean energy technologies, energy storage, energy efficiency and carbon dioxide capture, storage and utilization as well as extension efforts and technical assistance to ensure that government research outcomes are transferred effectively to stakeholders.
  5. Foster green workforce development at union and registered apprenticeship programs, community colleges, tribal colleges, technical training centers and other colleges and universities across rural America.

Rural Green Partnership Policies

The following sections outline policies to reduce GHG and increase clean energy opportunities in rural America across the five economic sectors that comprise total U.S. emissions: agriculture, electricity, transportation, commercial & residential and industry. Policies will also increase carbon dioxide removals via land use and forestry practices.

Read the entire Rural Green Partnership HERE.

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