This week President Biden unveiled a $5.8 trillion, fiscal 2022-23 budget proposal that officials say aims to maintain a focus on efforts to combat climate change, boost clean energy and promote conservation programs. The White House spending proposal is an annual recommendation that shows the administration’s thinking in setting its budget priorities.
Congress will have the ultimate say on how federal spending will be allotted. The budgeting process suffers from backlog, given that Congress has only recently approved the federal government spending plan for this fiscal year (2021-22) that started last Oct. 1.
In what the White House says is a “whole-of-government” approach to tackle the climate crisis, discretionary spending in the Biden budget proposal would increase climate change investments by more than $14 billion across nearly every federal department and agency when compared to this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.
The Biden budget proposal would increase total spending for the Agriculture Department by 17.1 percent, to $28.5 billion, including a $3.8-billion discretionary spending increase that would focus on climate, conservation and clean energy. Of that, $1.177 billion would address climate change across private, working agricultural land. The budget proposes $1 billion to support producers and landowners to undertake conservation and climate-smart practices on agricultural lands. To build on the $618 million investment included in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law adopted last year to protect and restore watersheds, the Biden budget proposes an additional $135 million.
For the department’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the Biden plan seeks more than $1 billion in discretionary spending for conservation-related technical assistance in fiscal 2023, up from $832 million set aside for this year. The White House proposal also includes $21 million to support key climate priorities at NRCS, “including establishing a soil health monitoring network that will include a network of soil sampling sites, integrating soil carbon monitoring into the conservation planning process, and efforts to increase the internal capacity of NRCS staff regarding key soil carbon and climate-smart activities.
Spending for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) is proposed at $2.74 billion, down a bit from $2.96 billion in this fiscal year. Outlays for the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) would total $50 million in mandatory funding under the Biden plan and up to $30 million in discretionary funding in fiscal 2023. Some $1 billion would go to the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), up $200 million from this fiscal year, while spending or the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) would remain the same at $300 million.
The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), which aims to keep vulnerable lands out of production, is targeted by the White House for a $2.4-billion boost to reach the maximum 27 million acres set for the program the 2018 Farm Bill. There are currently 22 million acres enrolled in the CRP.
The White House proposal also calls for the expenditure of $245 million across the USDA to accelerate research and development of next-generation biofuel technologies that will be a critical part of the clean energy future.
The Biden plan would set aside $9.2 billion at the DOE for clean energy research, development and deployment, up a third amount adopted for fiscal 2021. Other climate-related outlays proposed for the DOE include up to $5 billion in new lending authority for the department’s Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee Program, an initiative to support eligible projects that avoid, reduce or sequester greenhouse gas emissions. Some $1 billion is marked in the budget proposal for a new Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative (CEMI) at DOE to build resilient supply chains for climate and clean energy equipment.
The Department of the Interior (DOI) would also see climate-related funding under the Biden proposal, primarily to accelerate and expand clean energy deployment on public lands and offshore waters, increasing $184 million from fiscal 2021 to a proposed $291 million over the next fiscal year.
The White House spending road map will see vigorous debate before virtually every congressional committee. SfL encourages stakeholders to monitor the debate and call on policy makers to give farmers, ranchers and forestland owners the tools they need to scale up the adoption of climate smart agriculture systems and practices that will help them sustainably intensify production, improve resilience and sequester or reduce greenhouse gas emissions.