Senator Booker Proposes “Nature-Based” Climate Legislation

Presidential hopeful Senator Cory Booker last week introduced legislation in the Senate to combat climate change through farm conservation, reforestation, and wetlands restoration, The Hill reported.  Entitled “The Climate Stewardship Act of 2019,” if enacted, the law would:

  • support voluntary climate stewardship practices on more than 100 million acres of farmland,
  • plant more than 15 billion trees to revive deforested landscapes and expand urban tree cover,
  • reestablish the Civilian Conservation Corps — one of the New Deal’s most popular programs,
  • restore over two million acres of coastal wetlands, and
  • invest in renewable energy for farmers and rural small businesses in the spirit of the New Deal’s Rural Electrification Act, which provided low-cost loans to help bring electricity to rural America.

Why This Matters:  This is yet another interesting take on how to attack our climate change challenge, this one focusing on using a “nature-based approach.” It is interesting that he chose to roll out this bill the day the IPCC put out its Climate Change and Land Report — where so much of the report deals with the need to alter land use and food practices, but he does not mention the IPCC report in his release. Senator Booker highlights that restoration funding would help create “hundreds of thousands” of new jobs.  I (Monica) spent time working on restoration projects after the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and can attest that there are good jobs, as well as significant environmental and coastal resilience benefits to be had through restoration.

In His Own Words:

“In FDR’s New Deal, the federal government planted billions of trees, provided conservation incentives to family farmers and ranchers, created hundreds of thousands of jobs in the Civilian Conservation Corps, and electrified rural America. In order to address the urgent and existential threat posed by climate change, all of these approaches should be part of our broader strategy. In addition to transitioning from fossil fuels to clean energy, another essential step that we must take is to increase the carbon sequestration in our soils, forests, and wetlands,” Senator Booker said.

Restoration of Coastal Wetlands Is A Key Component of the Bill.

  • The bill aims to restore or protect over 2 million acres of coastal wetlands by 2030 to sequester carbon emissions and reduce coastal flooding.
  • Coastal wetlands act as an important sponge during extreme weather events with heavy rainfall.
  • For example, although New Jersey has lost more than 40 percent of its coastal wetlands, the wetlands remaining helped prevent $625 million of property damage during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

According to The Hill, Congresswoman Deb Haaland (D-N.M.), who chairs the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands, will introduce the bill in the House of Representatives.

To Go Deeper: To get more information on Senator Booker’s Climate Stewardship Act of 2019, you can find the section-by-section here and the full text here.

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