Year of Action: RTE Lobbies for Climate Legislation in 2021
Remineralize the Earth (RTE) made great strides in 2021, advocating to key federal representatives on behalf of science-based efforts to reduce atmospheric CO2 while increasing access to nutritious, abundant food.
In June, RTE collaborated with Methane Action to advocate for the U.S. government to strengthen its GHG mitigation efforts. Methane Action’s mission is “to pursue the science and policy advances needed, under careful global governance, to rapidly restore atmospheric concentrations of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, to pre-industrial levels (near 700 parts per billion) for the benefit of present and future generations.”
John M. Fitzgerald, J.D. submitted a written testimony to the U.S. Senate’s Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Regarding Operations of State, USAID, Treasury, and other agencies for fiscal year 2022 to highlight these concerns. RTE and Methane Action submitted additional testimony to the Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and to the Energy and Water Subcommittee.
“One or two offices might have thought I was crazy,” Fitzgerald recalled in an email exchange, about Senators’ reactions to the need for greenhouse gas drawdown. “[Methane Action Board Chairman Peter Jenkins] and I managed to get several key Congressional staff to let us brief them for half an hour or so on Zoom, and follow up with written materials. The reception we got was very positive from most, and at least interested from another office or two.”
In addition to testifying, RTE, Methane Action, and Daniel Galpern’s Climate Protection and Restoration Initiative (CPRI) collaborated to draft a letter to President Joe Biden, urging him to sign an executive order to fund research and development of safe, controlled methods for removing greenhouse gas from the atmosphere. Proponents sent another letter to the U.S. Congress, alongside letters from scientists highlighting the importance of reducing or mitigating emissions.
RTE volunteers also drafted and sent a letter to Rep. Jim McGovern in the U.S. House of Representatives, asking to meet with him to discuss remineralization. Additionally, they requested funding and an opportunity to craft legislation to support remineralization efforts. Later that month, RTE’s Joanna Campe and Greg Watson met for more than an hour with John Swords, the senior legislative assistant to Rep. McGovern, to address the importance of remineralization and regenerative agriculture for carbon drawdown. Swords was enthusiastic to learn as much as he could.
In December, RTE participated in the 2021 Online International Nature Farming Convergence. Scientists and natural farming practitioners throughout Asia and the U.S. gave presentations on topics ranging from soil health to food fermentation. One of these speakers was RTE Executive Director Joanna Campe, who spoke about the potential of soil remineralization to strengthen community-based agroforestry, transform agricultural practices, and mitigate the negative effects of climate change.
RTE’s tireless efforts to promote soil remineralization have continued into 2022. In March, the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a Request for Information announcing plans to invest $250 million in American-made fertilizers, and soliciting input from the public that will inform the plan’s development. By establishing a grant program to increase market competition among American fertilizer companies, the USDA hopes to bolster national fertilizer production and stimulate industry innovation, with the goal to “support innovative American-made fertilizer to give US farmers more choices in the marketplace.” RTE has delivered a comment to the USDA with hopes of bringing broader attention to the benefits of rock dust as a fertilizer and the potential for its ability to sequester carbon.
In addition, RTE in association with Tom Vanacore of Rock Dust Local is in the process of submitting a comment to the Natural Resources Conservation Service to suggest the inclusion of remineralization in the next revision of their National Handbook of Conservation Practices. According to Tom Vanacore, “I am trying to get specific language adopted which will allow for and encourage the use of the rock dust minerals as efficient sequestrates, increasing the efficacy of both biochar and compost and having the potential to manage GHGs as single source inputs and should therefore be included.”
After all that RTE accomplished in 2021, this year is shaping up to be another productive year as RTE, Methane Action, and CPRI continue their journey to educate lawmakers on the benefits of a holistic approach to greenhouse gas drawdown, including using rock dust to sequester carbon while enriching the health of soil, food, and people worldwide.