(Reuters) - U.S. lawmakers hoped to garner more support for climate change legislation awaiting a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives by looking out for agricultural interests.
Lawmakers came to a compromise earlier in the week that would help the Farm Belt cope with new requirements for industry to limit greenhouse gas emissions.
Following are some of the concessions made to farmers:
* Exempts the agriculture sector from having to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
- The sector contributes only a small amount to emissions;
* Gives the Agriculture Department oversight authority over projects by farmers and ranchers to reduce carbon emissions.
- The Environmental Protection Agency will take a back seat in this effort as lawmakers explained that the USDA is more popular in farm country.
- Farmers and ranchers would earn credits for planting trees, locking carbon into the soil through reduced tillage and taking other steps to control emissions.
- Projects initiated as far back as 2001 would be eligible for the carbon reduction credit.
* Removes an obstacle to corn-based ethanol for five years.
- Emissions resulting from forests and grasslands overseas being converted to cropland to take advantage of market share left open by U.S. farmers turning to energy crops would be studied for five years.
- During the study, U.S. ethanol makers would not be penalized for emissions from indirect land use change, which would have made it difficult to meet targets for greenhouse gas savings.
- The proposed EPA regulation could only take effect with the approval of three federal agencies, but Congress would have the ability to block the rule;
* Defines biomass with the less restrictive language used in the 2008 farm law
- Language originally in the bill would have prevented downed trees and other natural materials in federal forest lands to be used for biofuels production.
* Helps rural utilities transition to fewer emissions
- Small rural electric operators would receive a larger portion of credits toward meeting carbon reductions.
- Rural utilities would also be allowed to use federal funds to buy a stake in nuclear power plants.
(Compiled by Jasmin Melvin)