If you’ve been keeping up with the green energy debate, you probably know that the US House of Representatives passed legislation in June to cut the nation’s carbon emissions by 2020 to 17% below 2005 levels. A version of the bill is to go before the Senate in September. While many thought the summer recess would allow the topic to cool and the health care issues would be the burning topic when the Senate was again in session, it appears that the energy debate will pick up where it left off. The impetus now, apparently, is to pass the bill into law before the international climate negotiations, scheduled to take place at the end of the year in Copenhagen. According to a recently released Reuters article, the Obama administration has determined that the US needs to have a climate change law in place before international talks on a climate pact begin in December. Reuters journalist Ayesha Rascoe reported that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told reporters after an energy briefing at the White House, “We think it is important for the president to be empowered to be able to say to the rest of the world that America stands ready to lead on this issue.” Needless to say, pesky groups from the oil industry, agriculture, and manufacturing have continue to oppose climate change legislation on the basis of the impact it will have on costs for producers, farmers, and consumers without a guarantee of environmental gains. Rascoe reports that Vilsack and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke met with groups from the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic states to press their message that a climate change law would be good for the environment and economy. A US Agriculture Department study shows farmers could boost their net income by $10 billion to $20 billion in the long term earning money from offsets – contracts to plant trees or change the way they till land to lock more carbon in soils, Vilsack said. “The United States needs to set a very firm and clear example if we are to be successful in getting the other countries to be equally aggressive in addressing climate change,” Locke said, pointing out that if countries like China are to fall into step, the US has to set the pace. Vilsack took up Locke’s point: “How are we going to be able to move other nations in the same direction we want to move on trade issues or on fighting extremists if we can’t deliver on climate change when the rest of the world is moving forward?” Interesting question. I wonder, though, what constitutes “the rest of the world.”