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Tom Vilsack in July 2019. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

President-elect Joe Biden plans to nominate former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack as his agriculture secretary, giving him a role in Biden's climate agenda if confirmed to the job he also held under Barack Obama.

Why it matters: The Agriculture Department is relevant here for several reasons, including that Biden's platform calls for investing in practices that increase CO2 storage in soil and removing "regulatory roadblocks."

  • There's oil-and-gas projects and leasing on Forest Service properties, which means he would be part of Biden's (still vague) vow to ban new permitting on federal lands.
  • The department also traditionally collaborates with EPA on decisions about biofuels policy.

What we're watching: Politico reports that the chance to work on Biden's climate agenda "likely made the job more attractive for Vilsack to return."

  • Farm industry groups, after long resisting climate efforts, are becoming more interested in policies that incentivize soil carbon storage, per Politico.
  • "An idea recently gaining traction is to expand the USDA's Commodity Credit Corp. borrowing authority to create a carbon bank to help pay farmers and other landowners for carbon sequestration," their piece states.

By the numbers: "The agriculture sector accounts for about 10% of current overall U.S. emissions, while U.S forests sequester the equivalent of about 15% of carbon dioxide emissions from combustion of U.S. fossil fuels annually," according to the Climate 21 Project.

  • The group, which includes several Obama alums, is offering proposals for how a whole bunch of agencies can help address global warming.
  • Their USDA memo is here.

Yes, but: Vilsack's support for corn ethanol and his agribusiness background — he's led the U.S. Dairy Export Council since early 2017will likely rankle the left flank of the green movement.

  • Last night, Friends of the Earth said they were "deeply disappointed" with the choice.
  • "In order to implement Biden’s climate and racial justice agenda, Vilsack must be willing to transform the USDA to support a more diversified, regenerative, healthy and just food system," they said.

Go deeper

Trudeau stresses "disappointment" with Keystone XL in first official call with Biden

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Photo: DAVE CHAN/AFP via Getty

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday expressed his "disappointment" with President Biden's executive order to rescind permits for the Keystone XL pipeline, in a readout of the president's first official call with a foreign leader.

Why it matters: The prime minister has long backed the pipeline meant to carry crude oil from Alberta to Nebraska. Biden, however, campaigned on the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
12 mins ago - Economy & Business

Scoop: Red Sox strike out on deal to go public

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The parent company of the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool F.C. has ended talks to sell a minority ownership stake to RedBall Acquisition, a SPAC formed by longtime baseball executive Billy Beane and investor Gerry Cardinale, Axios has learned from multiple sources. An alternative investment, structured more like private equity, remains possible.

Why it matters: Red Sox fans won't be able to buy stock in the team any time soon.

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