Tag Archives: U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Inflation Reduction Act could curb climate damages by up to $1.9 trillion, White House says

By Emma Newburger, CNBC

The analysis by the Office of Management and Budget, which administers the federal budget, is the first published estimate of avoided climate-related social costs resulting from legislation. The social cost of carbon is an estimate of the economic costs that would occur from a future level of carbon pollution.

The bill’s climate provisions are projected to reduce the country’s carbon emissions by roughly 40% by 2030. Early in his presidency, President Joe Biden pledged to reduce U.S. emissions from 2005 levels at least in half by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Read more here.

Office of Management and Budget Analysis: The Social Benefits Of The Inflation Reduction Act’s Greenhouse Gas Emission Reductions (4-page PDF)

NEW RESEARCH ON PUBLIC PERCEPTIONS ABOUT CLIMATE CONCERN

Americans don’t think other Americans care about climate change as much as they do, CNBC
That’s the rough takeaway from research published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications.

  • Between 80 and 90 percent of Americans underestimate the concern their fellow Americans have for climate change and their support for “transformative” mitigation policies, according to research published Tuesday.
  • Between 66 and 80 percent of Americans support such policies, but they think that only between 37 and 43 percent of their peers hold that sentiment.
  • This kind of psychological disconnect is especially problematic in addressing climate change because it requires collective action.

AMERICAN FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

What’s in the Inflation Reduction Act for Agriculture?

The final bill includes nearly $40 billion for agriculture, forestry and rural development. This includes nearly $20 billion in funding for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), plus technical assistance.

In addition, it includes $14 billion for rural development to support the development of renewable energy and spending on biofuels infrastructure. The bill also provides $4 billion to mitigate the impacts of drought in the Western Reclamation states, with priority given to the Colorado River Basin and other basins experiencing comparable levels of long-term drought. 

USDA NEWS RELEASE

USDA Invests $121 Million in Critical Infrastructure to Combat Climate Change Across Rural America, August 24, 2022
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Secretary Dr. Jewel Bronaugh today announced USDA is investing $121 million in critical infrastructure to combat climate change across rural America. The investments include $111 million for 289 projects to help people living in socially vulnerable communities.

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY BLOG

How to Start Your Career in Clean Energy

This Energy.gov blog post was written by Isabelle Hamilton, an intern in the Office of Public Affairs. To learn more about internship opportunities available at the Department of Energy, visit the Department of Energy’s Students and Recent Graduates career page.


ALSO OF POTENTIAL INTEREST

FACT SHEET: White House Announces over $40 Billion in American Rescue Plan Investments in Our Workforce – With More Coming

The White House Briefing Room

On Wednesday, the White House will announce that over $40 Billion in American Rescue Plan funds have been committed to strengthening and expanding our workforce. White House officials will highlight top American Rescue Plan workforce best practices from Governors, Mayors, and County Leaders across the country, and call on more government officials and private sector leaders to expand investments in our workforce. Vice President Kamala Harris will deliver remarks kicking off a half-day White House Summit.

Since passage of the law, states, localities, community colleges, and local organizations have leveraged American Rescue Plan resources to deliver training, expand career paths, encourage more Registered Apprenticeships, provide retention and hiring bonuses in critical industries, and power efforts to help underserved Americans and those who face barriers to employment secure good jobs. These investments in the workforce – along with the American Rescue Plan’s direct payroll support that has saved or restored jobs across a broad set of industries – have contributed to a record 9 Million jobs added since President Biden took office in the fastest and strongest jobs recovery in American history. Continue reading here.

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE NEWS

USDA Accepts More than 3.1 Million Acres   in Grassland CRP Signup,  Farm Service Agency, EIN Presswire

WASHINGTON, July 12, 2022 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is accepting offers for more than 3.1 million acres from agricultural producers and private landowners through this year’s Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Grassland Signup, the highest in history. This program allows producers and landowners to continue grazing and haying practices while protecting grasslands and promoting plant and animal biodiversity and conservation, and it’s part of the Biden-Harris administration’s broader effort to address climate change and to conserve natural resources

  • Top states included Colorado (642,000 acres), South Dakota (nearly 425,000 acres) and Nebraska (nearly 422,000 acres). 

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR NEWS

Department Leaders Complete Multi-State Swing to Highlight Legacy Pollution Investments from Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

 Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and Senior Advisor and Infrastructure Coordinator Winnie Stachelberg traveled this week to highlight recent investments made by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to plug and remediate orphaned oil and gas wells in national parks, national forests, national wildlife refuges and on other public lands. Millions of Americans live within a mile of hundreds of thousands of orphaned oil and gas wells, which lead to hazardous pollution, water contamination, and safety hazards for our communities.

The Department recently announced a $33 million investment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in fiscal year 2022 to plug, remediate and reclaim hazardous sites on federal lands – part of a historic $4.7 billion allocated through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to clean up orphaned oil and gas wells across the country. The historic investments will create good-paying, union jobs, catalyze economic growth and revitalization, and reduce dangerous methane leaks.

The Department of the Interior focuses on 8 priorities:

Ways to join the Department of the Interior:

IPCC Outlines Opportunities For Action In Rural Communities To Address Climate Change

By Nick Summers, Center for Rural Affairs

A recent report issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reaffirms the importance of climate action in rural communities, calling on those communities to adapt to and mitigate climate impacts to preserve their own prosperity and protect food and energy security globally. The report takes a comprehensive look at the specific vulnerabilities of systems and communities and identifies pathways for adaptation and mitigation. Continue reading here.

Related Blog Posts

More CFRA Resources

FACT SHEET: Biden-Harris Administration Announces the Rural Partners Network to Empower Rural Communities to Access Federal Resources

With today’s launch of the Rural Partners Network, the Department of Energy is committed to ensuring federal resources that can benefit rural America actually reach rural America.

This new collaboration between federal agencies and rural communities will help create jobs, build infrastructure, and make the government work better for rural America.

Learn more here:

FACT SHEET: Biden-⁠Harris Administration Announces the Rural Partners Network to Empower Rural Communities to Access Federal Resources

FACT SHEET: President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Empowers the Department of Energy to Deliver for Rural America

Norfolk’s 8.5-megawatt solar farm nearing completion

By Dillon Adams, Siouxland Proud

The program is made possible through a 30-year partnership between Norfolk’s energy supplier, Nebraska Public Power District, and Sol Customer Solutions. [Mayor Josh] Moenning said there’s much more demand for solar energy these days, specifically from corporations.

“We think this is very forward-looking. A lot of businesses now are looking only for renewable sources, clean sources of energy and we’ll be able to accommodate them to a certain extent with this project and we’re hopeful we can develop more in the future,” said Moenning. Read more here.

The site will be planted with a pollinator crop. These are environmentally friendly and require minimal maintenance. Source: City of Norfolk.Gov

NEW REPORT ON ELECTRIC SCHOOL BUSES

New Report Details Benefits of Electric School Buses, American Public Power Association

With advances in electric bus technology, a growing understanding of the benefits of electrification, and an influx of federal money through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), electric school buses are becoming an increasingly viable option for school districts, according to a new report from the United States Public Interest Research Group, Environment America, and Frontier Group: Electric School Buses and the Grid

Read the Executive Summary and download the report here.

NDED RECOGNIZES FT. CALHOUN’S LEADERSHIP

Ft. Calhoun Honored for Leading Partnerships Geared Toward Energy, Recreational Growth, Nebraska Department of Economic Development News Release

The city of Ft. Calhoun (Pop. 908), home to a groundbreaking solar partnership with Omaha Public Power District (OPPD), has earned ongoing recognition from the State of Nebraska for recent economic growth. The Department of Economic Development (DED) this week announced the City’s recertification in Nebraska’s Leadership Certified Community (LCC) program. 

Click here for more information about the LCC Program.

PJM NEWS

Coal plant owners seek to shut 3.2 GW in PJM in face of economic, regulatory and market pressures, Utility Dive

PJM is a regional transmission organization (RTO) that coordinates the movement of
wholesale electricity in all or parts of 13 states and the District of Columbia.

Graphic: PJM Interconnection queue as of December 31, 2021.

Coal-fired power plants in PJM are retiring, as they are in other parts of the U.S., in the face of less expensive renewable energy, tougher environmental rules and higher operating costs, according to ESAI Power and the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, a nonprofit that supports moving away from fossil fuels.

FEATURED NATIONAL LIBRARY

USDA’s National Agricultural Library (NAL)
The National Agricultural Library is one of five national libraries of the United States and houses one of the world’s largest collections devoted to agriculture and its related sciences.

Recent NAL resources on renewable energy include:

Government Spending Bill Is Signed into Law: What You Need to Know

By Alexandra Adams, Natural Resources Defense Council

[Last] Tuesday, President Biden signed into law a $1.5 trillion bill, referred to as an “omnibus” spending bill, that funds the government through September and also provides billions in assistance for Ukraine. The omnibus funding bill passed the Senate in a 68-to-31 vote last week, a day after it received strong bipartisan support in the House of Representatives. Here’s why this is so important: Read more here.

Referenced in the article: The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law signed by President Biden mid-November, 2021.

Department of Energy Program Offices
The following are just several of DOE’s Program Offices. Find links to information about all DOE program offices and funding opportunities at the above link. The descriptions, below, are the Department of Energy’s. 

OFFICE OF ENERGY EFFICIENCY AND RENEWABLE ENERGY
The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) accelerates development and facilitates deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and market-based solutions that strengthen U.S. energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality.
Funding Opportunities

LOAN PROGRAMS OFFICE
The Department of Energy’s Loan Programs enable DOE to work with private companies and lenders to mitigate the financing risks associated with clean energy projects, and thereby encourage their development on a broader and much-needed scale.

The Loan Programs consist of three separate programs managed by two offices, the Loan Guarantee Program Office (LGP) and the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program Office. LPO originates, guarantees, and monitors loans to support clean energy projects through these programs.

OFFICE OF SCIENCE
The U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science is the lead federal agency supporting fundamental scientific research for energy and the Nation’s largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences. The Office of Science portfolio has two principal thrusts: direct support of scientific research and direct support of the development, construction, and operation of unique, open-access scientific user facilities. Scroll down to view Funding News.

OFFICE OF INDIAN ENERGY POLICY AND PROGRAMS
The Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs is authorized to fund and implement a variety of programmatic activities that assist American Indian Tribes and Alaska Native villages with energy development, capacity building, energy cost reduction, and electrification of Indian lands and homes.
Funding Opportunities

OFFICE OF ELECTRICITY
The Office of Electricity (OE) provides national leadership to ensure that the Nation’s energy delivery system is secure, resilient and reliable. OE works to develop new technologies to improve the infrastructure that brings electricity into our homes, offices, and factories, and the federal and state electricity policies and programs that shape electricity system planning and market operations.
Priority: Building a Better Grid Initiative

COMPREHENSIVE GRID LEGISLATION: THE CHARGE ACT

Senator Markey Introduces Sweeping Legislation To Create 21st Century Electric Grid,
News Release, Office of Senator Edward J. Markey

 The CHARGE Act would establish critical electricity infrastructure needed
to improve reliability, lower costs for ratepayers, spur clean energy innovation

Washington (March 17, 2022) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass), member of the Environment and Public Works Committee and co-chair of the Senate Climate Task Force, today introduced the Connecting Hard-to-reach Areas with Renewably Generated Energy (CHARGE) Act, comprehensive legislation that would lay the groundwork for America’s clean energy revolution. The legislation positions the United States to proactively plan and build a reliable and resilient energy grid across broad regions of the country, to bridge the gap between the supply of renewable energy and the cities and towns that need energy access. 

The CHARGE Act is endorsed by Public Citizen, Earthjustice, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), New Consensus, Grid Strategies, and Digital Climate Action. A copy of the legislation can be found HERE and a one-page summary HERE

DOE NEWS RELEASE

DOE Releases Action Plan For Photovoltaic Systems End-Of-Life Management, March 18, 2022

The five-year-strategy aims to halve the cost of recycling and reduce the
environmental impact of solar energy modules at end-of-life 

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today released an action plan to enable the safe and responsible handling of photovoltaic (PV) end-of-life (EOL) materials. The activities outlined in the plan will reduce the environmental impact of solar energy while supporting the Biden Administration’s goal to decarbonize the electricity grid by 2035.  

As solar deployment rapidly increases, more PV components will reach the end of their useful life and enter the waste stream. Although 95% of a PV module is recyclable, the current economics of EOL handling are unfavorable to recycling. The cost to recycle PV modules is significantly higher than the landfill fee. Establishing safe, responsible, and economic EOL practices will support greater deployment of solar energy.

Learn more about DOE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office here.
Funding Opportunities

USDA NEWS RELEASE

Rural Innovation Stronger Economy (RISE) Grants
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is soliciting applications for grants that will advance equity in rural America by creating new opportunities in distressed communities. The Rural Innovation Stronger Economy (RISE) Grant Program offers funding to create and augment high-wage jobs, accelerate the formation of new businesses, support industry clusters, and maximize the use of local productive assets in eligible low-income rural areas. RISE grant funds can be used to:

  • Build or support a business incubator facility
  • Provide worker training to support new job creation
  • Train the existing workforce to build skills for higher-paying jobs
  • Develop a base of skilled workers and improve their opportunities to obtain high-wage jobs in new or existing local industries.

Apply by April 19, 2022. 

Additional USDA Resources

Featured USDA Energy Programs

From The White House TodayA Proclamation on National Agriculture Day, 2022
On National Agriculture Day, we recognize the invaluable contributions of American farmers, farmworkers, ranchers, fishers, foresters, and other agricultural workers, who have practiced their craft for generations and touch the lives of Americans every day. Their tireless efforts growing crops, raising livestock, and distributing food, fuel, and fiber sustain America and the entire world.  They put meals on our plates, clothes on our backs, and roofs over our heads.  Along the way, America’s agricultural workers serve as stewards of the land; ensure the safety and health of animals, plants, and people; and strengthen our rural communities with economic opportunities.

Neighbors express excitement, frustration over Cass County solar farm proposal

By Abbie Petersen KETV

CASS COUNTY, Neb. — As gas prices climb, there’s a new look toward solar energy in rural Nebraska. The zoning administrator for Cass County says the proposal for the solar farm near Murray would be one of the largest in the state. But some neighbors say they think the solar farm is a bad investment. Zoning administrator Mike Jensen says it’s a big decision. Continue reading or watch the video here.

FROM PV MAGAZINE & NDA

Solar+food in ethanol fields could fully power the United States
Converting the nation’s 40 million acres of ethanol corn farms into solar-plus-food facilities would generate 1.5 times our nation’s electricity needs, while also powering a 100% electrified passenger vehicle fleet.

Nebraska Agriculture Fact Card, Nebraska Department of Agriculture, February 2022

  • In 2021, Nebraska ranked second in ethanol production capacity, with 25 operating plants having production capacity of almost 2.6 billion gallons. Approximately 31% of Nebraska’s 2021 corn crop was utilized in ethanol production.
  • Nebraska’s farms and ranches utilize 44.8 million acres, 92% of the state’s total land area.
  • There are 22 million acres of rangeland and pastureland in Nebraska, half of which are in the Sandhills.

USDA RESOURCE

Farming and Farm Income, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Most farmers receive off-farm income, but small-scale operators depend on it.
Median total household income among all farm households ($80,060) exceeded the median total household income for all U.S. households ($67,521) in 2020. Median household income and income from farming increase with farm size and most households earn some income from off-farm employment. About 89 percent of U.S. farms are small, with gross cash farm income less than $350,000; the households operating these farms typically rely on off-farm sources for most of their household income. In contrast, the median household operating large-scale farms earned $402,780 in 2020, and most of that came from farming.

LAND LEASE RESOURCE FOR FARMERS & RANCHERS 

Considerations for Leasing Land for Solar Development, by F. John Hay, Extension Educator for Bioenergy, University of Nebraska Lincoln

Links to More Extension Resources

USDA Launches Pilot Program to Deploy Renewable Energy Infrastructure to People in Rural Towns

USDA News Release

WASHINGTON, D.C., Jan. 19, 2022 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the Department is making up to $10 million available to help people living in rural towns develop community renewable energy projects that will help them cut their energy costs and contribute to the nationwide effort to reduce pollution that contributes to climate change. These funds will be targeted to help people who live in communities that have been historically underinvested and disinvested.

USDA is making the funds available through the new Rural Energy Pilot Program to help the people of rural America build back better, stronger and more equitably than ever before. Through this program, USDA is supporting the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to making environmental justice a part of every agency’s mission to address the disproportionate health, environmental, economic and climate impacts on disadvantaged communities. Read more here.

Additional Recommended Reading

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Highlights Key Work in 2021 to Combat Climate Change, USDA News Release, January 18, 2022

“Climate change threatens our food security, safety, and the environment we all depend on, but USDA is taking action to respond,” said Vilsack. “Working closely alongside our partners and those we serve, we are conserving precious natural resources, supporting climate smart forestry and agriculture, helping agricultural producers make their operations more climate friendly and resilient to climate change, and protecting communities from wildfire.”

USDA Resource: Climate Solutions

Kate Bolz Begins Term as State Director USDA RD Nebraska

USDA News Release

LINCOLN, Neb.– State Director Kate Bolz took her oath of office here Monday, beginning her appointment by the Biden-Harris Administration to oversee the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development for Nebraska. The oath was administered virtually to twelve new officials across the United States from Washington D.C. due to COVID protocols.

In her new role, Bolz will oversee the administration of Rural Development programs in the state including grants and loans to individuals, families, businesses, organizations, and municipalities in rural areas in need of single-family housing, multi-family housing, repair, renewable energy, water and environmental programs, broadband extension, and telecommunications/ infrastructure improvements. Continue reading here.

Recent USDA News Releases & Select Resources

Solar power projects see the light on former Appalachian coal land

By Carey L. Biron, Thomsen Reuters Foundation News

The U.S. government formally began looking at putting renewable energy installations
on disturbed land – including mines, but also contaminated sites and landfills – in 2008. Since then, the RE-Powering America’s Land program has mapped over 100,000 potential sites covering more than 44 million acres.

DICKENSON COUNTY, Virginia – Looking west from Hazel Mountain, Brad Kreps can see forested hills stretching to the Tennessee border and beyond, but it is the flat, denuded area in front of him he finds exciting.

Surface coal mining ended on this site several years ago. But with a clean-up underway, it is now being prepared for a new chapter in the region’s longstanding role as a major energy producer – this time from a renewable source: the sun.

While using former mining land to generate solar energy has long been discussed, this and five related sites are among the first projects to move forward in the coalfields of the central Appalachian Mountains, as well as nationally. Continue reading here.

Virginia’s Clean Energy Legislation

Previously Posted: Interior Investing Over $260 Million to Help Create Jobs and Revitalize Land in Coal Communities, Department of the Interior News Release

DESERT RENEWABLE ENERGY CONSERVATION PLAN


The Biden Administration seeks to conserve 30% of U.S. land by 2030. The Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan is one way to that goal.

See: Road to 30, Center for Western Priorities. Scroll down to learn about this plan and more Ways to Get to 30.

DOI News Release: Interior Department Advances Three Solar Projects in California, Marking Significant Progress to Develop a Clean Energy Economy


The three projects will generate roughly 1,000 megawatts (or 1 gigawatt of power) and are the first projects approved under the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) in the desert regions of seven California counties. 

 

Additional Resources

FEATURED REAP STORY FROM NORTH CAROLINA

Salisbury water buffalo farm installs solar panels with help from Rural Energy for America Program, Salisbury Post 

Caring for the buffalo and making products with their milk is hard work, and it also requires a significant amount of energy. That’s why the couple decided to install solar panels on the roof of their milking parlor and creamery last year. They were excited to find out in the spring they were awarded a $13,000 grant to help finance the project from the United States Department of Agriculture through its Rural Energy for America Program.

Next REAP Application Deadline: March 31, 2022

AMERICAN CLEAN POWER ASSOCIATION NEWS & RESOURCES

Celebrating Clean Power’s Progress and Reflecting on ACP’s First Year
ACP was created to unite the power of America’s clean energy industry. Our trade association brings together wind, solar, transmission and storage companies, along with manufacturers and construction companies, project developers and owners/operators, utilities, financial firms, and corporate purchasers of clean power to advance our shared goals and to transform the U.S. power grid to a low-cost, reliable, and renewable power system. 

Featured ACP Resources

Additional recommended reading on the above topic: Three Myths About Renewable Energy and the Grid, Debunked, by Amory B. Lovins and M.V. Ramana, Yale Environment 360

Renewable energy skeptics argue that because of their variability, wind and solar cannot be the foundation of a dependable electricity grid. But the expansion of renewables and new methods of energy management and storage can lead to a grid that is reliable and clean.

ALSO OF POTENTIAL INTEREST