June 2019


EDITOR’S NOTE: Welcome to the latest edition of NACSAA News, a monthly compilation of CSA-related news. “NACSAA in Action” features the latest on the Alliance activities; “Featured News” offers some of the biggest CSA-related stories of the past month; “Other News We Are Reading” is a listing of news stories from other sources we think you will find of interest; and “Partner News and Events.” We hope this newsletter will serve to keep you, your members and other constituencies fully engaged in the growing development of climate-smart agriculture policy, programs and practices. Your feedback is welcome and appreciated. To subscribe, email info@SfLDialogue.net.

NACSAA in Action

NACSAA Members Go to Hill to Promote

Ag’s Role in Addressing Climate Change


NACSAA leaders were invited to Capitol Hill last week to brief key staffers on climate work underway both within NACSAA member organizations, as well as through the North Carolina, Florida and Missouri Climate Smart Agriculture Work Groups, and the Ohio Smart Agriculture: Solutions from the Land Initiative.


Meeting last Thursday with the majority staff of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, the NACSAA delegation urged that lawmakers frame agriculture’s role as a solution to climate change, not a problem. NACSAA members also cautioned against efforts to manage the climate crisis in a narrowly focused “silo,” instead recognizing that agriculture has a role to play in addressing all 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals.


Staffers were also called on to urge their committee members to embrace biofuels as a climate change solutions pathway.


A meeting with the minority staff team will be held later this month.


The briefings last Thursday followed high-profile hearings on both sides of Capitol Hill the previous week, prompted by the extreme weather that has torn a wide swath across the Midwest and Plains states. A “bomb cyclone” brought blizzard conditions, snow, heavy rains and hurricane force winds in March, resulting in catastrophic damages to farming and livestock operations in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, Minnesota and Missouri. Heavy rains have continued over the past two months, spreading the flooding to other states in the region.


During the House Select Committee hearing, Matt Russell, a fifth-generation farmer from Iowa, testified about the challenges and opportunities global warming presents for American farmers, telling committee members that farmers must provide essential leadership in both policy and economic development.


Russell shared how American agriculture must adapt to the increasing threats of climate change while also developing the solutions for clean energy and carbon capture on farms, noting that no other group of Americans is more threatened by climate change than farmers and at the same time more capable of providing solutions to mitigate this crisis. (All witness statements at the House hearing can be accessed HERE.)


The Senate Agriculture Committee hearing held the same week drew particular attention, given that until now, Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) has had little interest in the topic of climate change.


The Senate panel heard from Matt Rezac, a fifth-generation farmer from Weston, NE, who normally farms about 2,500 acres in corn and soybeans. Citing the economic significance those who work the land attribute to properly caring for it, Rezac told the committee that farmers recognize the importance of technology and innovation in ensuring their operations maximize efficient production.


“Because we’re embracing technology and because we are willing to work together, farmers are ready to lead on climate solutions,” the Nebraska grower said.


In addition to testified as to the impact of a changing climate on their operations, Russell and Rezac shared with lawmakers what they need to adapt and improve the resilience of their operations.


The hearings marked a renewed, bipartisan discussion among lawmakers that not only acknowledged the impact a changing climate is having on farming, ranching and forestry operations, but also brought to the table consideration of the vast contributions the agriculture sector can offer in combatting climate change.


NACSAA Leaders Set to Attend

Global Climate Talks in Bonn This Month


NACSAA Chairman Fred Yoder, Steering Committee member AG Kawamura and Solutions from the Land President Ernie Shea will be attending the Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture (GASCA) annual forum set for June 15-16 in Bonn, Germany.


The forum precedes the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn June 17-21, when the NACSAA delegation will be participating in workshops on the Koronivia Joint Work Agreement (KWJA) on agriculture. The NACSAA members are in Bonn to support the Alliance’s latest set of recommendations on the Koronivia agreement being developed by two sub-panels under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC).



Karen Ross, Kawamura’s successor as Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, will be speaking at both the GACSA forum and the KJWA sessions, discussing soil heath and other climate smart agriculture strategies.


Yoder is on the GACSA program to share lessons learned in NACSAA. Shea will be moderating the opening panel session featuring GACSA members in action across the globe.


This year’s GACSA Forum will focus on how members are supporting the scaling up of climate-smart activities in the implementation of the KJWA, Gender Action Plan, and Nationally Determined Indicators. Discussions are also expected on the new GACSA Strategic Plan 2018-2019.


The last GACSA Annual Forum in 2017 brought together more than 200 stakeholders to share evidence and experiences related to Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) and how CSA solutions can be scaled up. For more on the previous annual forum, go to GACSA Annual Forum Summary Report.


GACSA is an inclusive, voluntary and action-oriented multi-stakeholder platform on Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA). Its vision is to improve food security, nutrition and resilience in the face of climate change. GACSA aims to catalyze and help create transformational partnerships to encourage actions that reflect an integrated approach to the three pillars of CSA, 1) sustainably increasing agricultural productivity and livelihoods (i.e. sustainable intensification); 2) enhancing adaptive capacity and improving resilience; and 3) delivering ecosystem services, sequestering carbon, and reducing and/or avoiding greenhouse gas emissions.


Cape Fear River Stakeholders Hear

NACSAA Viewpoints at NC Conference


Two NACSAA-related experts were on hand at the Cape Fear River Assembly’s 46th Annual Conference at Research Triangle in North Carolina last month, when speakers focused on exploring the state of climate resiliency in the Cape Fear River’s watershed and efforts that governments, industry and the service sector are taking to respond to climate challenges.


Dr. Len Bull, a SfL senior advisor and professor emeritus of animal science at NC State University, and R.C. Hunt, co-chairman of the NC-ADAPT initiative and NACSAA volunteer, shared with meeting participants what the agriculture, livestock and forestry sectors are doing to adapt to climate change and the solutions that the sectors can offer to help reduce GHG emissions and mitigate climate change.


The core message from Bull and Hunt was that climate change will present new opportunities and challenges for agriculture and forestry. Furthermore, agriculture, energy, conservation and climate objectives are intertwined. Resilience and adaptation represent an investment into the future of our nation and its producers, the speakers told their audience.


The assembly brings together diverse stakeholder groups and individuals to find solutions to water quality and quantity problems impacting the entire Cape Fear River basin. Assembly members accomplish their mission by providing education, encouraging dialogue and promoting projects.


NACSAA to Join Field to Market Alliance


The Field to Market (FTM) board of directors has approved NACSAA’s application to become an associate member of the agriculture sustainability advocacy group. Earlier this spring, FTM President Rod Snyder approached the Alliance about joining FTM to share knowledge and provide a bridge to the global climate smart agriculture work streams in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).


Created in 2006, Field to Market members participate in a premier platform for advancing sustainable agriculture in the United States. Field to Market members gain access to an essential tool for unlocking shared value – a common framework for sustainability measurement that farmers and the supply chain can use to better understand and assess performance at the field, local, state and national levels.


The Alliance membership includes nearly 140 brands, retailers, manufacturers, agribusinesses, farmer organizations, nonprofits, universities and government institutions participating in the food, farming and agriculture industry.


Prior to joining, members commit to sharing alliance’s vision and mission, meeting its goals and collaborating to create opportunities across the agricultural supply chain for continuous improvements in productivity, environmental quality and human well-being.



Featured News

Policy Enabling Environment for Climate Smart Agriculture:

A Case Study of California


To remain a global agricultural leader, California agriculture will have to continue adapting to changing climate conditions, resource availability and competitive global markets, says a paper published last month in Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems.


The paper was written by Josette Lewis and Jessica Rudnick. Lewis is currently with the Almond Board of California, but was formerly with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) where she worked on behalf of NACSAA and the Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture. Rudnick is with Department of Environmental Science and Policy, at the University of California, Davis.


The researchers note that climate smart agriculture (CSA) itself offers a globally recognizable framework to demonstrate how agriculture and climate intersect and suggest how agriculture can contribute to mitigation, adaptation and productivity goals going forward.


They say California plays an important role in these global CSA discussions, as it is a major producer of hundreds of specialty crops, exemplifies the dry climate conditions that typify numerous agricultural regions around the world, and houses major research and technology innovation sectors that support the development of many innovative CSA solutions.


They say the political economy of California agriculture also illustrates global trends that will impact CSA policy.


“While the state ranks as an agricultural powerhouse, agriculture is a declining percent of the state economy and a declining percent of the labor force,” the authors note. “As the state’s economy and population grow and diversify outside of agriculture, public policy goals have also changed and political attention has been directed toward non-farm priorities, including environmental health and social and environmental justice.”


They cite World Bank data indicating similar trends toward declining shares of agriculture in economies and labor forces are occurring globally, as countries transition from developing to middle- and high-income economies, and mechanization becomes more widespread in agricultural production systems.


The researchers say that specific means by which various agricultural players will contribute to meeting CSA goals both within and outside of California will likely change over time.


“Programs that promote specific farming practices or resource governance approaches should be designed to be adaptable and allow for policy learning,” the authors write.


Their case study on the development of California’s CSA initiatives aims “to provide a perspective on how multiple actors have coordinated in one system to develop integrative mitigation and adaptation initiatives that are appropriate for multiple cropping systems in various biophysical conditions across the state.”


They anticipate that as both social and environmental conditions change in California, the CSA initiatives will need to adapt to maintain relevancy. They also cite instances where there have been overlapping or conflicting goals that have had to be reconciled, or have led to unintended and undesirable consequences.


“The triple-wins narrative frequently posited with CSA programs is not always possible to achieve,” they warn. “Indeed, as our case study shows, there are in fact very few examples of policies or initiatives that achieve all three CSA pillars through a single effort. Rather, we believe it is more likely that these three simultaneous goals will likely be met via disparate efforts, increasing the likelihood that tradeoff decisions may need to be faced.”


As CSA initiatives develop in other locations, the authors emphasize the importance of taking an integrative systems approach to understanding how various components of climate and agriculture intersect and considering carefully how to reconcile these conflicting interests.


“An important direction moving forward will be to consider how CSA initiatives integrate with aspects of the cultural and social institutions that operate in different contexts and shape what type of agriculture is conducted, who participates in agriculture, and what agricultural outputs are produced,” the researcher say. “This integration will be crucial for CSA-oriented initiatives to pose solutions that recognize the needs, wants and capacities of the communities dependent on the very agricultural systems that are under consideration.”


Ethanol Industry Welcomes Lifting

of E15 Summertime Ban; Condemns ‘Abuse’ of SREs


The EPA issued its final rule Friday that allowing retailers to sell gasoline containing 15-percent ethanol (E15) year-round, lifting a longtime summertime ban on E15 blend that the agencies own scientists found was unjustified.


In its final rule, the EPA said it was extending a 1-psi (pounds per square inch) Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) waiver to E15 during the summer months.


The EPA said the RVP waiver will take effect immediately as “when the agency grants or recognizes an exemption or relieves a restriction, affected parties do not need a reasonable time to adjust because the effect is not adverse.”


In addition to lifting the summertime ban on E15, the EPA said it was finalizing reforms to the RINs market. These reforms include requiring public disclosure when RIN holdings exceed specified thresholds and the collection of additional data to improve transparency and EPA oversight.


The RIN reforms adopted were not as drastic as originally proposed, prompting an outcry earlier this year from the ethanol industry concerned a drawn-out battle over reforms could hold up the E15 waiver.


Response from the ethanol industry was positive.


The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) said the EPA rule fulfills President Trump’s promise to eliminate the summertime prohibition on E15, a fuel that offers lower cost, reduced emissions, and higher octane.


In the nine years since EPA first approved the use of E15, RFA and other ethanol-related groups have worked to remove what they have said is a costly and unnecessary regulatory barrier that prevented retailers in most of the country from selling the fuel during the busy summer driving season.


RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper thanked the president for “championing this critical regulatory reform that will enhance competition, bolster the rural economy, and provide greater consumer access to cleaner, more affordable fuel option.”


Cooper said E15 already has a proven track record for saving drivers money at the pump and reducing emissions.


“Today’s action will ensure that more Americans are able to enjoy those benefits,” he said. “Year-round E15 will also provide a badly needed long-term demand boost for our industry and America’s farmers, who face a number of daunting challenges today.”


American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings said the new rule “means U.S. retailers finally have the opportunity to offer E15 to their customers year round as the peak summer driving season kicks off this weekend.


He also said he and others in the industry were grateful the EPA considered their comments “in opposition to sweeping and unnecessary reforms to the way RIN credits are handled under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Had EPA gone forward with the so-called RIN reforms, it would have dulled the upside benefit of E15 year-round.”


But Cooper, Jennings and other industry leaders said the economic benefits that would come from expanded E15 sales will be undermined if EPA continues what the industry says is the “indiscriminate” small refinery hardship waivers.


“Against the intent of Congress, EPA has been granting RFS exemptions to refiners without requiring them to demonstrate their claimed ‘hardship’ is somehow connected to the RFS,” the RFA chief said. “The demand destruction caused by EPA’s waivers must end.”


He called on the president to build on the momentum generated by lifting the E15 ban and reign in “EPA’s abuse of the small refiner exemption program.”


Jennings said the EPA’s “ongoing mismanagement of the RFS through blanket small refinery exemptions (SREs) needs to stop. The net effect of E15 year-round with 2.61 billion gallons worth of SREs that aren’t reallocated (to other refineries) means we’re still in the hole when it comes to ethanol demand through the RFS.”


He noted that EPA is currently sitting on nearly 40 requests for refinery waivers from the 2018 compliance year, adding that ACE and others “discourage EPA from erasing any benefit of [the E15] rule by granting more waivers at a time when rural America can least afford it.”


Three weeks ago, a three-judge panel of the D.C. Court of Appeals denied a request from the Advanced Biofuels Association (ABFA) to block the EPA from issuing the hardship waivers, ruling the ABFA had “not satisfied the stringent requirements for an injunction pending court review.”


EPA maintained its position that the agency has followed the statute, as well as congressional and judicial direction in granting the waivers.


A separate lawsuit challenging the rapid increase in waivers under former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt remains pending.


On Capitol Hill, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN) and Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-SD) introduced legislation that would require small refineries to petition for hardship exemptions by June 1 each year, ensuring the EPA properly accounts for exempted gallons in the annual renewable volume obligations the agency sets each November.


EPA has granted 54 waivers to refineries for the 2016 and 2017 RFS compliance years. While those exemptions have taken 2.61 billion ethanol-equivalent gallons out of the marketplace, the agency is not accounting for these waivers, despite RFS requirements that the EPA make adjustments when determining future biofuels targets to account for waivers – a provision aimed at ensuring the overall biofuel targets are not reduced by the waivers.


More Research Warns of Climate Change Consequences


Research led by scientists at the University of Minnesota say the world’s top 10 crops will see their production vary from region to region, some faring worse than others, due to climate change.


Meanwhile, research from the University of Indiana indicates warming temperatures affect native and non-native flowering plants differently, which could change the look of local landscapes over time.


Published in PLOS ONE, the University of Minnesota-led study, conducted with researchers from the University of Oxford and the University of Copenhagen, looks at barley, cassava, corn, oil palm, rapeseed, rice, sorghum, soybean, sugarcane and wheat, which supply a combined 83 percent of all calories produced on cropland.


While yields have long been projected to decrease in future climate conditions, the newest research shows climate change has already affected production of these key energy sources – and some regions and countries are faring far worse than others.


Using weather and reported crop data to evaluate the potential impact of observed climate change, the researchers found that:

  • observed climate change causes a significant yield variation in the world’s top 10 crops, ranging from a decrease of 13.4 percent for oil palm to an increase of 3.5 percent for soybean, and resulting in an average reduction of approximately one percent (-3.5 X 10e13 kcal/year) of consumable food calories from these top 10 crops;
  • impacts of climate change on global food production are mostly negative in Europe, Southern Africa, and Australia, generally positive in Latin America, and mixed in Asia and Northern and Central America;
  • half of all food-insecure countries are experiencing decreases in crop production — and so are some affluent industrialized countries in Western Europe;
  • contrastingly, recent climate change has increased the yields of certain crops in some areas of the upper Midwest United States.

“There are winners and losers, and some countries that are already food insecure fare worse,” says lead author Deepak Ray of the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment, whose high-resolution global crop statistics databases have also been used to help to identify how global crop production changes over time.


The findings indicate which geographical areas and crops are most at risk, making them relevant to those working to achieve the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals of ending hunger and limiting the effects of climate change. Insights like these lead to new questions and crucial next steps, the researchers say.


The new study from Indiana says that looking at blooming flowers as spring advances across the Midwest suggests that non-native plants might outlast native plants in the region due to climate change. The findings indicate changing climate conditions could boost the growth of weeds.


The study – led by researchers at Indiana University’s Environmental Resilience Institute, part of IU’s Prepared for Environmental Change Grand Challenge initiative, and Michigan State University – has revealed that warming temperatures affect native and non-native flowering plants differently, which could change the look of local landscapes over time.


The study was published May 28 in the journal Ecology Letters.


“The timing of a plant’s life cycle is crucial for species survival,” said study co-author Jen Lau, an associate professor in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Biology and a member of the Environmental Resilience Institute. “When a plant flowers determines whether it will be pollinated by bees or other insects and how much time it will have to produce seeds. Our data makes me worry that we will have a very weedy world in our future.”


The researchers’ findings suggest non-native plant species may be better at shifting their flowering time compared to native plant species. These differences are thought to influence a species’ success both now and in future warmer environments.


To test this hypothesis, Lau and her students simulated global warming in fields planted with 45 native and non-native species. Some areas were warmed by infrared heaters, while other areas were not. Lau’s lab surveyed all plants to determine when they first flowered and how long they flowered.


When grown in warmed plots simulating the climate change expected in the Midwest by the end of the century, the researchers found that non-native species flowered more than 11 days earlier on average. In contrast, native species did not shift flowering times at all when warmed.


DOE Announces $79 Million for

Bioenergy Research and Development


The DOE will award more than $79 million in funding for bioenergy research and development, including biofuels, bioproducts and biopower.


The funding supports DOE’s goal of providing consumers and businesses with a range of domestic energy options that are affordable, reliable, and secure.


“We are focused on expanding America’s energy supply, growing the economy, and enhancing energy security, which will all be furthered by the significant advancements made in bioenergy technologies,” said Under Secretary of Energy Mark Menezes. “The funding opportunities…will help ensure our nation’s competitive advantage in the emerging bioeconomy and allow us to continue to offer U.S. consumers and businesses more homegrown energy choices.”


The FOA topics will advance DOE’s Bioenergy Technology Office’s (BETO) objectives to reduce the price of drop-in biofuels, lower the cost of biopower, and enable high-value products from biomass or waste resources. Topics areas for this funding opportunity include the following:

  1. Cultivation Intensification Processes for Algae: Develop technologies for outdoor algae systems that increase the harvest yield, reliability and quality of algae.
  2. Biomass Component Variability and Feedstock Conversion Interface: Research to lower the cost and improve the reliability of biomass handling and preprocessing.
  3. Efficient Wood Heaters: Develop technologies to reduce emissions and increase efficiency of wood heaters for residential heating.
  4. Systems Research of Hydrocarbon Biofuel Technologies: Integrate new technologies and processes in experimental prototype systems to improve and verify real-world performance and lower the cost of drop-in biofuels.
  5. Optimization of Biomass-Derived Jet Fuel Blends: Identify and develop cost-competitive drop-in renewable jet fuel with improved energy density and lower particulate matter emissions.
  6. Renewable Energy from Urban and Suburban Wastes: Support academic research and educational programs that focus on strategies to produce bioenergy and bioproducts from urban and suburban waste feedstocks.
  7. Advanced Bioprocessing and Agile BioFoundry: Reduce the time and cost of developing biological processes for biomanufacturing fuels and products through the use of synthetic biology, low capital intensity methods, and continuous production systems.
  8. Plastics in the Circular Carbon Economy: Develop biobased plastics with improved performance and recyclability and lower the cost and energy-intensity of recycling existing plastics through enhanced degradation.
  9. Rethinking Anaerobic Digestion: Develop anaerobic processes or alternative strategies to enhance carbon conversion efficiency and lower costs of smaller scale wet waste systems.
  10. Reducing Water, Energy, and Emissions in Bioenergy: Identify biofuels or bioproducts technologies with the greatest potential for reducing water consumption, energy consumption, and/or emissions relative to existing conventional fuels or products.

This FOA also supports the Water Security Grand Challenge, a White House initiated, DOE-led framework to advance transformational technology and innovation to meet the global need for safe, secure and affordable water. In particular, this funding will support research and development focused on anaerobic digestion, a technology that can help achieve the Grand Challenge’s goal to double resource recovery from municipal wastewater.


For more information, read the full FOA on the EERE Exchange website.



Other News We Are Reading…


Do Most Americans Believe in Human-Caused Climate Change? Depends on How You Ask.  (Annenberg Public Policy Center)


What percentage of Americans believe in human-caused climate change? The answer depends on what is asked – and how. In a new study, researchers at the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC) of the University of Pennsylvania found that “seemingly trivial decisions made when constructing questions can, in some cases, significantly alter the proportion of the American public who appear to believe in human-caused climate change.” Surveying more than 7,000 people, the researchers found that the proportion of Americans who believe that climate change is human-caused ranges from 50 percent to 71 percent, depending on the question format. And the number of self-identified Republicans who say they accept climate change as human-caused varied even more dramatically, from 29 percent to 61 percent. “People’s beliefs about climate change play an important role in how they think about solutions to it,” said the lead author, Matthew Motta, one of four APPC postdoctoral fellows who conducted the study. “If we can’t accurately measure those beliefs, we may be under- or overestimating their support for different solutions. If we want to understand why the public supports or opposes different policy solutions to climate change, we need to understand what their views are on the science.” Read more…


Climate Policy Foes Seize on New White House Rule to Challenge Endangerment Finding(Inside Climate News)


Seizing a new opportunity they believe has been opened up by the White House, hard-line foes of climate action on Monday once again asked the Trump Administration to reverse the landmark Obama-era finding that greenhouse gases are a danger to human health and the environment. The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a conservative Washington, D.C., think tank and steadfast ally of the fossil fuel industry, filed a petition with the EPA, seeking to block the agency from continuing to use the so-called “endangerment finding” adopted by the agency in 2009 as a basis for policymaking. The endangerment finding served as the foundation for most of President Obama’s climate agenda, providing the legal basis for his administration’s actions to curb emissions from power plants and motor vehicles. The U.S. Supreme Court had ruled in 2007 that the EPA had authority to regulate greenhouse gases as pollutants if it found that they were a danger to human health and the environment. Read more…


Opinion: Farming Offers a One-Of-A-Kind Solution for Climate Change

(John Piotti, President, American Farmland Trust, via Agri-Pulse)


Former USDA Secretary Vilsack is right: “You cannot ask farmers to do this on their own. They have the will but not the resources.” The bipartisan hearing held by the Senate Agriculture Committee, led by Chairman Roberts and Ranking Member Stabenow, on Climate Change and the Agriculture Sector set an important precedent for future conversations and the work we need to do to bring to bear the benefits of climate-smart agriculture – work we need to do for our farmers, for our society and for the future of our planet. We are facing the greatest challenge humankind has ever encountered and farming done right offers a one-of-a-kind solution, one that we must embrace and support fervently. The role that farmers can play in combatting climate change was on full display earlier this week and the positive impact their efforts can have on farm productivity and profitability, our environment and our economy were made clear by the testimony. But while farmers and ranchers are working to reduce their emissions and to sequester more carbon in the soil, there is much more that can – and must – be done to address climate change. Adopting climate-smart agricultural practices is among the least costly and most immediate actions that can help reduce GHG emissions on a meaningful scale. While there are a growing number of farmers and ranchers taking action to rebuild their soil by adopting soil health management systems, key barriers hinder more widespread adoption. We need to break down those barriers and deliver urgently needed support and incentives so that farmers and ranchers can do the work we all need them to do. Read more…


Renewable Energy is Winning. So Now What Do We Do? (WattTime)


In April, people the world over are celebrating Earth Week. Media headlines and social media feeds alike were awash in coverage – what has changed since Earth Day 2018; things you can do to reduce your environmental footprint; urgent calls to action to do more, faster to avert the worst effects of climate change. This year’s edition of Earth Week comes on the heels of sobering news. Late last month, the International Energy Agency (IEA) noted that in 2018 global energy demand rose 2.3 percent and worldwide energy-related carbon emissions rose 1.7 percent, the latter to their highest level ever. It’d be easy to despair and conclude doomsday climate scenarios are now inevitable. But at WattTime, the more deeply we look at the data, the more we’re starting to see an entirely different story emerging. It’s true that 2018’s numbers backslide slightly. But looking back in hindsight from a few year’s hence, we’ll likely soon conclude that 2018 was a minor speed bump in a larger story of rapid, powerful progress. We sit today on the precipice of a paradigm shift for the world’s electricity systems. Renewable energy currently accounts for over a third of global power capacity, per the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). But it’s changing fast – both last year and the one before it, two-thirds of new electric generating capacity built worldwide was renewable, led by solar and wind. Read more…


New Study: Renewable Fuel Standard Saves Consumers 22 Cents on Every Gallon of Gas (Renewable Fuels Association)


A new study from energy policy expert, Dr. Philip K. Verleger Jr., has found that consumers save 22 cents on every gallon of gas thanks to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). That’s a savings of nearly $5 every time you fill up, or $250 per American family every year. The Renewable Fuel Standard Program: Measuring the Impact on Crude Oil and Gasoline Prices looks at the impact of the RFS on crude oil and gasoline prices over the last four years (2015-2018). The findings highlight how the RFS has helped keep prices down at the pumps by requiring oil refiners to blend a certain amount of renewable fuel into the fuel they produce. Read more…


The Energy Solution Growing in Our Backyards

(Rep. Buddy Carter, R-GA, via Morning Consult)


From addressing climate change to achieving American energy independence, there are many the reasons I believe we need to be focused on supporting a wide variety of innovative energy sources. As we work toward creating more affordable and clean energy, one piece of this strategy just happens to be right in our backyards. Over the last decade, the United States has become the world’s largest exporter of wood biomass – the trees and parts of trees that the timber industry can’t use. Utilities across Europe and in other nations have used wood energy to replace tens of millions of tons of coal in their power plants. In fact, as the discussion continues on reducing emissions, many point to Europe’s progress in this area. One of the fastest-growing sources of renewable energy in Europe remains biomass, much of which is grown in my home state of Georgia and exported overseas to meet their targets. In fact, it’s estimated that biomass makes up nearly 60 percent of the European Union’s renewable portfolio. Read more…


We’ll soon know the exact air pollution from every power plant in the world.



A nonprofit artificial intelligence firm called WattTime is going to use satellite imagery to precisely track the air pollution (including carbon emissions) coming out of every single power plant in the world, in real time. Poor monitoring and gaming of emissions data have made it difficult to enforce pollution restrictions on power plants. This system promises to effectively eliminate poor monitoring and gaming of emissions data. The information will be made available to the public, in addition to regulators and policy makers. The plan is to use data from satellites that make theirs publicly available (like the European Union’s Copernicus network and the U.S. Landsat network), as well as data from a few private companies that charge for their data (like Digital Globe). The data will come from a variety of sensors operating at different wavelengths, including thermal infrared that can detect heat. Read more…


Sponsors Say Senate Bill Would Overhaul Energy Tax Code, Combat Climate Change (U.S. Senate Finance Committee)


Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, (D-OR) and 25 colleagues today introduced legislation to overhaul the federal tax code to support an innovative, low carbon economy. The Clean Energy for America Act would consolidate the current 44 energy incentives into three technology-neutral provisions that encourage clean electricity, clean transportation and energy efficiency. “The federal tax code is woefully inadequate to address today’s energy challenges,” Wyden said in a statement. “It’s a hodgepodge of temporary credits, anchored by advantages for ‘Big Oil,’ that don’t effectively move us toward the goals of reducing carbon emissions or lowering electricity bills for American families. It’s time to kick America’s carbon habit, and that means a complete transformation of the tax code to reward clean electricity, transportation and conservation.” To incentivize clean electricity, the bill would provide a production tax credit (PTC) or an investment tax credit (ITC) to facilities that are at least 35 percent cleaner than average, with a maximum of a 2.4 cents per kilowatt hour PTC or a 30 percent ITC available for facilities with zero carbon emissions. Read more…



Partner News and CSA Events


Call for Ideas: November 2019 Georgia Climate Conference


November 7-8, 2019 – Emory Conference Center – Atlanta, GA


Are you working to understand or communicate what a changing climate means for Georgia? Are you working on solutions that help Georgia respond to these changes? We invite you to share your work at the 2019 Georgia Climate Conference!


Please click here to propose a session, an individual presentation, a poster, or any other creative idea for the conference. Deadline for submission is Monday, June 10.


We are open to a wide range of topics and ideas, including but not limited to: building readiness for climate impacts (adaptation/resilience), reducing emissions (mitigation), climate research, climate solutions, and/or climate communication. All proposals will be reviewed by a panel of experts to ensure relevance and maintain balance in topics.


The 2019 Georgia Climate Conference — “Minimizing Georgia’s Risks. Maximizing Georgia’s Future” — will bring together 300 leaders and experts from the public, private, and non-profit sectors to collaborate, share ideas, highlight progress, and identify opportunities to do more. This conference is the second-ever statewide climate conference, following a highly successful 2016 conference — “Prepare, Respond, and Adapt: Is Georgia Climate Ready?” — convened by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.


To learn more and register, please visit conference.GeorgiaClimateProject.org.


74th Annual SWCS International Conference

Set for Pittsburgh, July 28-31


In the northeastern United States, food production has taken different forms over time, and management of soil and water has been accelerated by agricultural and urban dynamics. This rich and varied land use history makes the region a prime location to unite conservation experts to preserve our natural resources.


The 74th SWCS International Annual Conference location is the Wyndham Grand in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, just feet from the point where the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers meet to form the Ohio. The hotel sits at the pinnacle of the Golden Triangle, the city’s revitalized urban center. Whether you’re exploring Point Park, a 36 acre state park that pays homage to the many generations of communities that have occupied the site; seeing one of the nation’s first green buildings; or learning about partnerships to scale up conservation on the local level and beyond, the city of Pittsburgh is a perfect setting for new conservation connections and perspectives.


Home to three rivers and 446 bridges, Pittsburgh is known as “The City of Bridges.” These bridges play an important role in connecting the valleys, hillsides, river plains, and communities. This city of linkages sets the stage for connections around eight general conservation research and practice topics. Specialty tracks will foster dialogue surrounding unique partnerships in watershed planning and implementation, engagement of the private sector in conservation, and the challenges of adapting the landscape to a changing climate.


Paths to meet current soil and water conservation needs look very different from the solutions that galvanized action after the Dust Bowl, and they will continue to evolve. Come to Pittsburgh and be part of that shared conservation future


The early registration cut-off is

June 19, and the online registration cut-off is

July 17


For access to registration, hotel and transportation information, and agenda, click HERE.


We encourage our NACSAA partners and other stakeholders to share with us any organization news or events highlighting your role in climate smart agriculture. We look forward to including your information in our monthly newsletter. Simply send your news or event notices to info@SfLDialogue.net.

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