Washington – In case you missed it: this week, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) spoke on the House Floor to urge Congress to support the Rural Green Partnership.
I rise today to share with you a framework of principles to give rural America a seat at the table as we work to combat climate change. I call it the Rural Green Partnership.
For generations, farm families in Illinois have worked hard to provide food for our country and the world. But this year has brought a challenging growing season.
Farmers have seen shifting weather patterns and severe flooding delay — and even prevent — planting and harvesting.
Rural economies in Illinois – and across the country – depend on a stable climate to survive. Weather chaos means it is more difficult to deliver crops and put food on the table.
I am proud to put forward the Rural Green Partnership. If we follow the principles in this plan, we can lower greenhouse gas emissions AND spur economic growth.
Colleagues – it is our moral and economic imperative to address this climate crisis and its impact on rural America.
I urge you to join me in enacting policies outlined in the Rural Green Partnership, so we can provide our farming communities with more than just a path forward … but also with an opportunity to prosper.
I yield back.
Background on 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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- Leverage zero and low interest loans, tax credits and grants to incentivize new clean energy development and innovations that drive down GHG emissions.
- 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.
- 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.