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Buckeye Farm News
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in December announced an endangerment finding on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, claiming they threaten the public health and welfare of the American people. The EPA feels these findings go along with the 2007 Supreme Court decision that greenhouse gases fit within the Clean Air Act definition of air pollutants and therefore can be regulated under the Clean Air Act.
Adam Sharp, OFBF senior director of legislative and regulatory policy, said the EPA proposal could once again create a so-called “cow tax,” which could punish farmers for greenhouse gases naturally emitted by livestock.
“When the EPA came out with this more recent proposal, they claimed the emission thresholds for those who will need to get Clean Air Act permits to operate is much higher. But all this new rule does is set up the potential for activists to file lawsuits that will most certainly lower these permit emission thresholds and drastically impact farmers.”
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, has introduced a resolution of disapproval in the Senate to stop the EPA’s proposal to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.
A Senate vote is expected in the coming weeks.
In a strongly worded letter sent to all members of Congress, AFBF President Bob Stallman said the choice is clear.
“The real opportunity to stop EPA’s onerous regulations is to adopt a resolution of disapproval,” he wrote.
In the House, a resolution has been introduced by Reps. Ike Skelton, D-Mo, Jo Ann Emerson R-Mo, and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson D-Minn.
The EPA’s proposal to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act is “economically harmful, legally suspect and environmentally indefensible,” according to AFBF.
The resolution to disapprove EPA’s proposal would not weaken any environmental protections, but would simply provide Congress the appropriate opportunity to debate and legislate in this area, AFBF said.
“U.S. farmers and ranchers will be harmed by higher energy and fertilizer costs if EPA is allowed to move forward with its proposal to regulate (greenhouse gases),” said Stallman. Further, according to AFBF, if EPA is allowed to move forward with its proposal, “it appears likely that for the first time in history, even medium- and small-sized farming operations might have to comply” with expensive permitting requirements.
“Such policy decisions, which will affect the entire U.S. economy for decades to come, should be made by elected officials, not by a regulatory agency,” Stallman said. He also encouraged both chambers of Congress to work toward bipartisan consensus on the disapproval matter.
During AFBF's recent annual meeting, farmers from across the country voted to support any legislation that would suspend EPA's authority to move ahead with regulations of greenhouse gases without a Congressional vote. Farmers also voted to oppose current cap-and -trade legislation, stating that it would raise production costs for farmers and that any potential benefits to agriculture are far outweighed by the costs to producers.
During the meeting, Stallman told farmers that Congress should focus on domestic renewable energy but shouldn't "shrink U.S. agriculture at a time when many are concerned how to feed a growing global population."