WASHINGTON — A petition recently filed in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association challenged the Environmental Protection Agency's recent greenhouse gas (G.H.G.) "endangerment finding" rule.
"E.P.A.’s finding is not based on a rigorous scientific analysis; yet it would trigger a cascade of future greenhouse gas regulations with sweeping impacts across the entire U.S. economy," said Tamara Thies, chief environmental counsel. "Why the Administration decided to move forward on this type of rule when there’s so much uncertainty surrounding humans’ contribution to climate change is perplexing."
N.C.B.A. said the endangerment finding does not in and of itself regulate G.H.G.s, but it is a critical step in the process for G.H.G. regulation under the Clean Air Act (C.A.A.). The rule provides the foundation for E.P.A. for the first time to regulate G.H.G.s from small and large sources throughout the economy, including farms, hospitals, office buildings and schools.
Because of this rule, E.P.A. will be able to tell farmers they can only emit a certain level of G.H.G.s. If they go over that amount, they can incur severe penalties and be forced to curtail production. N.C.B.A. also said the rule also sets the stage for citizen suits against large and small businesses that are the backbones of the U.S. economy. In addition, increased energy costs associated with this ruling will be devastating for agriculture and the public as a whole, N.C.B.A. said.
"Instead of letting the issue of climate change, and man's alleged contribution to it, be addressed through the proper democratic legislative process, E.P.A. has decided to trump Congress and mandate greenhouse gas regulation under the Clean Air Act," Ms. Thies said. "The Act is ill-equipped to address climate change, and Congress never intended for it to be used for that purpose."
E.P.A. defined air pollution, under the rule, to include six greenhouse gases, and stated that manmade greenhouse gases endanger public health and the environment.
"As was [recently] evident during difficult negotiations...in Copenhagen, other countries around the world like China and India are unwilling to tie the hands of their economic engines and impose these kinds of costs on their citizens," Ms. Thies said. "This unilateral move by the E.P.A. jeopardizes our ability to remain competitive in the global marketplace."
N.C.B.A.'s petition, which it filed as part of a coalition of interested parties, is the first step in asking the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn E.P.A.'s rule due to a lack of sound or adequate basis for making the finding of endangerment from anthropogenic G.H.G.s.
In 2007, G.H.G. emissions from the entire U.S. agriculture sector represented less than 6% of total U.S. G.H.G. emissions, and the livestock industry emitted only 2.8%, according to the E.P.A. At the same time, land use, land use change and forestry activities resulted in a net carbon sequestration of approximately 17.4% of total U.S. carbon dioxide emissions, or 14.9% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, N.C.B.A. pointed out.