DENVER – The regulatory climate in Washington is intense when it comes to environmental issues, said Tamara Thies, chief environmental counsel for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, at the 18th annual Cattlemen’s College held during the 2011 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show.

“Agriculture has become a target for onerous environmental regulation, more so than ever,” she said. “Our industry has had constant battles with the current administration. There is an ever-increasing number of issues that are amounting to what I call a ‘perfect storm’ for cattle producers.”

Approximately 750 Cattlemen’s College attendees attended Thies’ presentation on many issues that could negatively impact cattle producers with no clear environmental benefit. She discussed more than 15 legislative and policy initiatives that could dramatically change the regulatory environment for cattle producers throughout the country.

Citing the Environmental Protection Agency’s interpretation of greenhouse gas regulation under the Clean Air Act as just one example of how far reaching some of the regulation can be, Thies said. “NCBA does not believe that Congress intended EPA to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, and is supporting congressional efforts to stop EPA from acting outside of its role as an agency. Until Congress acts, EPA should not,” she added.

Dust and ammonia regulation was also discussed by Thies, as well as several initiatives focused on water quality and the Clean Water Act.

Sponsored by Pfizer Animal Health, Cattlemen’s College included 18 forums with tracks covering six general topics — cattle genetics and breeding; cattle reproductive technologies; production management; business management; beef quality and consumer trends; and environmental issues.