Last week, Representative McClellan (D-VA) and Representative Lawler (R-NY) introduced a new bipartisan bill that could activate interagency coordination across the US government to strengthen and scale soil carbon research. The Coordination for Soil Carbon Research and Monitoring Act aims to streamline soil carbon research efforts and deployment of soil carbon practices, doubling down on measuring, monitoring, reporting, and verification (MMRV) to address the most acute challenges curtailing land-based carbon removal at scale.

The details of the bill

The Coordination for Soil Carbon Research and Monitoring Act could:

  • Authorize an Interagency Committee on Soil Carbon Research led by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy with representatives from relevant US agencies.
  • Direct the Interagency Committee to create and implement a strategic plan for federal soil carbon research, development, and deployment.
  • Establish working groups within the Interagency Committee to coordinate soil carbon research priorities (like MMRV), identify gaps in current efforts, thoughtfully engage with agricultural communities and producers, and seek additional input from the scientific community, private sector, and non-profit organizations.
  • Require the Interagency Committee to submit a baseline report to Congress on existing soil carbon research, as well as regular updates to Congress on research and monitoring activities and progress.

For a more detailed look at what the bill proposes, check out the full text. check out the full text.

The bill mirrors key recommendations Carbon180 spelled out in our Soil Carbon Moonshot report, which mapped out the transformative potential of soil carbon, key barriers hindering that potential, and the policy changes needed to overcome them. The Moonshot’s recommendations centered around enabling stronger coordination and leadership across the US government to drive soil carbon research and strategic action to close knowledge gaps, advance MMRV, and support education and technical assistance initiatives. This is exactly what Representative McClellan and Representative Lawler’s bill delivers — a bold vision to marshal the necessary resources and action across the federal government to pursue ground-breaking research, speed innovation, and unlock new benefits from soil carbon sequestration.

What this bill does for today’s efforts

This tidy bill packs a big punch and could address one of the foundational challenges facing existing soil carbon research and development (R&D) efforts: Various agencies and departments across the US government are already conducting some research on soil carbon sequestration, but in ways that are siloed and fragmented. By establishing an interagency committee to direct current disparate efforts, this legislation helps fully leverage existing R&D investments and taxpayer dollars while also laying a foundation to close current gaps and uncover new research horizons.

Broad and holistic stakeholder engagement

Importantly, the Interagency Committee on Soil Carbon Research and working groups are directed to include robust engagement with producers — the indispensable stewards of agricultural land and essential stakeholders for actualizing carbon sequestration. Producer engagement ensures that soil carbon research, development, and deployment makes sense for those implementing practices on the ground.

Working groups would also conduct outreach and seek input from stakeholders across the private sector, academic institutions, non-profit organizations, and more, offering a roadmap for how both an interagency and inter-stakeholder approach can propel soil carbon sequestration research and monitoring.

Tools and practices for MMRV

This bill also gives us the tools to support evidence-based carbon incentives for producers that can ultimately help get more soil carbon practices on more acres. By emphasizing MMRV as both a core component of the Interagency Committee’s strategic plan as well as a working group priority, this legislation seeks to substantially advance MMRV development. Improved MMRV is critical to creating science-based rewards for producers’ land stewardship.

Bills working hand in hand

The Coordination for Soil Carbon Research and Monitoring Act is a welcome addition to the suite of bills that Carbon180 supports ahead of the next Farm Bill reauthorization. The bill supplements the Advancing Research on Agricultural Climate Impacts (ARACI) Act in actualizing soil carbon sequestration in a science-based and producer-informed way. Together, these two bills bring core recommendations from our Soil Carbon Moonshot report into actionable legislation. To really shoot for the moon and unlock the full potential of soil carbon sequestration, we need the coordinated, organized, and forward-thinking approach that these bills provide.

Edited by Emily Reich. Image by Michael Fousert.