WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate is being asked by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (N.C.B.A.) and the Public Lands Council (P.L.C.) to stand up for American agriculture by supporting S. J. Res. 26 (“Resolution of Disapproval”) by Senators Murkowski (R-ARK) and Lincoln (D-ARK). Expected to come before the full Senate for a vote later this week, the bipartisan resolution would effectively reverse the Environmental Protection Agency's (E.P.A.) finding that greenhouse gases (G.H.G.) are an "endangerment to public health and welfare."
“If E.P.A. succeeds in its efforts to trump Congress and unilaterally regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act, it will be devastating not just to agriculture but to the entire U.S. economy,” said Tamara Thies, N.C.B.A. chief environmental counsel. “It would be irresponsible to allow the E.P.A. to move forward on this type of regulation when there’s so much uncertainty surrounding humans’ contribution to climate change.”
She pointed out E.P.A.’s “endangerment” finding issued in December 2009 provides the foundation for the agency to regulate G.H.G.s from small and large sources throughout the economy — including farms, hospitals, office buildings and schools — under the Clean Air Act (C.A.A.). The C.A.A. is ill-equipped to address climate change, and it was never the intent of Congress that it be used for this purpose, she said.
“The Resolution of Disapproval would in effect reverse E.P.A.’s finding, and instead allow the complex issue of climate change to be handled through thoughtful Congressional debate,” Ms. Thies said. “In these challenging economic times, we cannot afford to take actions that further jeopardize the ability of the U.S. to remain competitive in the global marketplace.”
On May 18, N.C.B.A., P.L.C. and nearly 50 other agriculture groups sent a joint letter in support of the resolution to members of the Senate. Title V operating permits alone would cost farmers over $866 million (on top of increased input costs as a result of the regulatory impacts on other economic sectors), according to the groups.
In addition to supporting S.J. Res. 26 and similar resolutions introduced in the House by Reps. Ike Skelton (D-MO) and Joe Barton (R-TX), N.C.B.A. and the Coalition for Responsible Regulation Inc. have taken legal action to prevent E.P.A. from moving forward on G.H.G. regulation. In December, 2009, the Coalition filed petitions with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and E.P.A. challenging the science behind the initial “endangerment finding,” and in April, 2010, the Coalition filed an appeal against the so-called “Johnson Memo” interpreting when G.H.G.s become subject to the federal Prevention of Significant Deterioration (P.S.D.) permit program. The Coalition’s most recent appeal, which was filed late last week, challenges E.P.A.’s tailpipe standards for greenhouse gas emissions.
“We’re asking every member of the Senate to support democratic debate, verifiable science, and American jobs by voting in favor of this resolution,” Ms. Thies concluded.