Congressman Jared Huffman

Representing the 2nd District of California

Rep. Huffman Introduces Healthy Soils and Rangelands Solutions Act to Improve Carbon Capture in Federal Grazing Practices

May 24, 2016
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Building on innovative carbon sequestration practices that have been pioneered in Marin County, Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) today introduced the Healthy Soils and Rangelands Solution Act legislation that would direct federal land managers to rigorously evaluate how to increase the amount of carbon captured on public lands.

In 2014, Congressman Huffman invited John Wick, the Co-Founder of the Marin Carbon Project, to testify in Washington before a House Committee on Natural Resources subcommittee. Wick’s testimony focused on his groundbreaking work in Marin with a consortium of ranchers, land managers, researchers, and others, to improve rangeland productivity and sustainability through careful research and demonstration. At that 2014 hearing, the first in Congress to explore the topic, Huffman and bipartisan members of the committee explored options to improve public land management and carbon soil sequestration.

“Addressing climate change is the greatest imperative of our generation and California has always been at the forefront of this fight. We have a real opportunity to put our federal lands to work in the fight against climate change, using the groundbreaking scientific work already underway in Marin and drawing from the important bipartisan support for these ideas that we’ve already demonstrated in Congress,” said Rep. Huffman.

"This legislation holds significant promise for advancing the health of American soils, and represents a triple-win; for working lands, for producers and consumers, and for the climate," said John Wick, the Co-Founder of the Marin Carbon Project.

“As we employ every possible tool to address the climate crisis, our shared public lands must be a part of the solution. This piece of legislation will help us be innovative in how we implement that solution.” said Josh Mantell, Carbon Management Campaign Manager for The Wilderness Society.

“Healthy, resilient working lands are key to sustainable food production and carbon farming is integral to that. On our local ranches we see the results: Sequestered carbon, yes, but also taller grasses, better soil moisture retention and an overall healthier, more profitable working landscape. The opportunity for impact—on climate change and food production—if implemented on public lands across the country is tremendous and one we cannot afford to miss out on,” said Jamison Watts, Executive Director, Marin Agricultural Land Trust.

The federal government, through the Natural Resources Conservation Service, has collaborated with the Marin Carbon Project and its local and regional partners to develop a model carbon farm planning process and evaluate carbon sequestration practices. Huffman’s new legislation would authorize a pilot program to study and report to Congress on projects for sequestering carbon through enhanced grazing practices, restoring degraded public lands including rangelands and forests, and the application of composts.

Changes in agricultural practices can facilitate carbon sequestration using cost-neutral and even cost-negative approaches. Recent studies have determined that changes in grazing practices, too, can enhance soil root mass carbon capture by 35-75%, allowing more productive ranching and grazing to occur.

Earlier this year, Rep. Huffman introduced the “Keep It in the Ground Act” to reduce carbon emissions and our nation’s addiction to fossil fuels by permanently barring new fossil fuel leases on all federal public lands and in federal waters.