August 8, 2019
Restore America’s Estuaries
For Immediate Release
Contact: Jeff Benoit
703-524-0248 | firstname.lastname@example.org
U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) today released a climate change bill focused on using nature-based approaches to remove atmospheric carbon through voluntary farm and ranch conservation practices, massive reforestation, and coastal wetlands restoration. The Climate Stewardship Act of 2019, inspired by measures implemented in President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, would support voluntary climate stewardship practices on more than 100 million acres of farmland, revive deforested landscapes by planting over 15 billion trees, 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 wake of last year’s dire United Nations report detailing the urgency and scale at which we must act to address the climate change crisis and reach net zero emissions, this legislation provides nature-based solutions to remove heat-trapping carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. It is estimated that currently our soils, forests, and coastal wetlands sequester approximately 11 percent of all U.S. emissions, but the potential exists to substantially increase such sequestration by implementing the types of natural climate solutions included in this proposal — planting more trees, restoring coastal wetlands, and greatly scaling up the adoption of farm and ranch conservation practices.
“This legislation will not only reduce emissions and substantially increase carbon sequestration, but will also create hundreds of thousands of new jobs, enhance biodiversity by restoring tens of millions of acres of habitat, and make our farms more resilient and competitive,” says Senator Booker.
The Climate Stewardship Act will:
- Plant over 4 billion trees by 2030, and 15 billion trees by 2050, on a combination of federal, state, local, tribal, and non-governmental lands. The ambitious level of tree planting outlined in the Climate Stewardship Act makes it the biggest reforestation measure ever to be introduced in Congress.
- Plant over 100 million of these trees in urban neighborhoods across America, with the priority going to low-income neighborhoods and communities of color. In addition to sequestering carbon, trees also absorb harmful air pollutants and reduce temperatures in urban areas.
- Support voluntary climate stewardship practices on over 100 million acres of farmland, reducing or offsetting agricultural emissions by one-third by 2025, through:
- Providing tens of billions of dollars of supplemental funding for USDA working lands conservation programs, with new funding dedicated to stewardship practices such as rotational grazing, improved fertilizer efficiency, and planting tens of millions of new acres of cover crops.
- Protecting millions of acres of environmentally sensitive farmland.
- Doubling funding for agricultural research programs, including more funding for soil health demonstration trials.
- Tripling USDA funding to provide farmers with expert technical assistance on climate stewardship practices.
- Providing grant funding to tens of thousands of farmers, ranchers and rural businesses for renewable energy production, such as solar panels and wind turbines, and energy efficiency improvements.
- Invest in local and regional food systems to increase resilience in rural and urban communities.
- 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.
- Reestablish the Civilian Conservation Corps to provide economically disadvantaged youth with skills and work experience in forestry and wetlands restoration.
The Climate Stewardship Act of 2019 is endorsed by more than 30 farmer, environmental, restoration, and forestry organizations, including Restore America’s Estuaries. A full list of endorsing organizations can be found here.
“We applaud Senator Booker for his vision and bold leadership on this issue. Coastal wetlands restoration and conservation will be a game-changer as we face the increasing effects of climate change. The science clearly documents the ability of coastal wetlands to play a significant role in the capture and storage of atmospheric carbon,” says Jeff Benoit, president of Restore America’s Estuaries.
Restore America’s Estuaries (RAE) is a national nonprofit organization established in 1995. RAE leads a national alliance of ten coastal conservation organizations across the country dedicated to the protection and restoration of bays and estuaries as essential resources for our nation.