Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Just in from Washington

EPA Declaration Could Hurt Family Farms

WASHINGTON--The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's announcement that greenhouse gases jeopardize public health opens the door for the federal regulation of carbon dioxide emissions from refineries, chemical facilities and power plants - even if Congress rejects climate change legislation.

But the EPA's declaration doesn’t directly impose new carbon dioxide caps; it does establish the framework for regulating carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.

Monday's announcement clears the way for the EPA to finalize the first-ever national limits on vehicle exhaust emissions that were proposed earlier this year. EPA lawyers say the vehicle emissions rule and the endangerment finding could force the EPA to regulate suspected heat-trapping gases under the Clean Air Act by next spring; which isn’t sitting well with Nation’s largest Farm Organization.

“The decision by the Environmental Protection Agency today to announce an endangerment finding on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases could carry severe consequences for America’s farmers and ranchers,” said American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman.

“We firmly believe any regulations dealing with global warming that could negatively affect our ability to produce food and fiber for our nation and the world should come through the legislative process. While more and more questions are being raised about the scientific validity of global warming models it is not the time to begin making sweeping policy decisions based on the projections offered by those climate models.”

Stallman added that while the EPA’s intention is to focus on a few polluters, he thinks the new rules will affect small operations. “We realize the EPA’s stated intention is to focus this finding narrowly on specific industries, using particular thresholds, but we believe there is no protection in the provisions that prevent them from being applied broadly across all sectors, including farm and ranch families who produce livestock. Due to the timing of the announcement, with the Copenhagen talks about to kickoff, we also believe this move could have more to do with political science than climate science.”

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