The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is deeply concerned about the potential impacts that a recent Environmental Protection Agency finding could have on livestock operations. EPA’s finding — which proposes that greenhouse gas emissions are an endangerment to public health and welfare — is the first step in a process that could require GHG regulation under the Clean Air Act.
“While the Clean Air Act has done a good job of cleaning up pollutants, it is not adequately equipped to address global climate change,” explains NCBA chief environmental counsel Tamara Thies. “Congress never intended to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act, and any attempts to use it for this purpose would be devastating for the U.S. economy.”
If the administration and Congress decide to regulate GHG, a cap-and-trade program would be more appropriate, rather than the
“If the EPA moves forward with this finding, the agency would have unprecedented control over every sector of the U.S. economy,” Thies says. “Regulation of greenhouse gases should be thoughtfully considered and voted on by Congress. Allowing the EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act would impose untenable burdens, expenses and restrictions on industry, families and our nation as a whole.”
While agricultural sources are currently generally not required to obtain permits for greenhouse gas emissions, regulation of GHG under the
“Given the fact that America currently has over 2 million farms, it would be virtually impossible to permit a majority of them,” Thies says. “The amount of paperwork, time delays and new technology needs would be insurmountable. In addition, most of America’s agricultural producers simply would not be able to afford the regulatory compliance costs that would be imposed on them under such a program, and they would be forced out of business.”
According to the EPA, in 2006, GHG emissions from the entire agriculture sector represented only 6.4 percent of total U.S. GHG emissions in Tg CO2 Eq. (Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2006, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
“Rather than being subject to overly burdensome regulations, agriculture should be considered part of the solution to the climate change issue,” Thies says. “Agricultural operations can serve as an important source of carbon offsets to enable regulated industries to comply with any cap set by climate change legislation.”
NCBA plans to submit comments to EPA during the upcoming 60-day public comment period.