Pingree, Timmons Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Invest in Climate-Forward Forestry Practices
Washington, August 30, 2023
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) and Congressman William Timmons (R-S.C.) today introduced the Rural Forest Markets Act, bipartisan legislation to help small-scale, family forest owners and states forestry agencies access new economic opportunities and develop solutions to mitigate the climate crisis.
“The extreme heat, wildfires, and weather events the country has endured this summer have shown how damaging and costly climate change can be. As we grapple with these effects, companies across the country are increasingly searching for ways to offset their carbon emissions, including through carbon sequestration in forests,” said Pingree. “While 95% of Maine forest land is privately owned, few forest owners currently participate in carbon markets due to the up-front costs and uncertainty about rules and requirements. The Rural Forest Markets Act will help Maine’s family forest owners tap into carbon markets and create an economic incentive for climate-friendly management of state forests.”
“Owners of small or family-owned forests are often left behind in carbon markets,” said Timmons. “The Bipartisan Rural Forest Markets Act will provide U.S. government guarantees for loans and bonds in carbon markets, unlocking private capital to help small-scale, family forest owners access new economic opportunities without burdening American taxpayers. Breaking down the high barrier of entry to these markets is key to the success of foresters in not only South Carolina, but across the country.”
The Rural Forest Markets Act would create a program at USDA to guarantee loans, bonds, or other investment vehicles up to $150 million for projects that assist private forest owners in overcoming financial and technical barriers so they can create and sell carbon credits. This would create an incentive for climate-friendly management and provide another revenue stream for forest owners, in addition to forest production.
“The Rural Forest Markets Act (RFMA) is the bipartisan effort that rural families have been waiting for,” said Rita Hite, President and CEO of the American Forest Foundation. “The innovative financing RFMA provides, unlocks private investment in America’s rural landowners and helps fight the global climate crisis. Our planet is in danger, we cannot wait; I urge the House to pass RFMA now.”
Congresswoman Pingree is a member of the House Agriculture Committee and the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, and the Food and Drug Administration. She also serves as ranking member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, which oversees U.S. Forest Service funding.
The Rural Forest Markets Act is supported by: