By Chuck Folken, President
Nebraska Cattlemen, Inc.,
Not long after taking office, President Obama ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to launch an aggressive regulatory agenda in 2011, including the imposition of economy-wide policing of greenhouse gas emissions.
Much of the attention (or more accurately outrage) surrounding EPA’s unilateral grab of unauthorized regulatory powers over greenhouse gas emissions has focused new burdens to be placed on power plants, factories, refineries, and even furnace boilers.
American agriculture, including the beef industry, is alarmed by the EPA’s bureaucratic overreach, a rule-making that will stifle economic growth and vastly enlarge the size and reach of the federal government.
Last year, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and other organizations sued EPA to block its new emissions rules.
Beef producers object to the Obama Administration’s efforts to accomplish, without Congressional authority, what it failed to when Congress and the American people said “no” to passing a controversial cap-and-trade bill.
The problem with this administration’s approach is that it ignores the voice and will of the American people and, instead, puts in place a regulatory scheme that attempts to accomplish the agenda of unelected bureaucrats.
Decisions about the appropriateness of regulating greenhouse gases should properly be the domain of Congress.
Tamara Thies, NCBA’s chief environmental counsel, told an industry gathering recently that beef producers “do not believe that Congress intended EPA to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.”
The Cattlemen’s Association supports congressional efforts now underway to stop EPA from acting beyond its authority.
Thies said that agriculture has increasingly become a target for “onerous” environmental regulation.
Last fall, former Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas chaired a hearing to investigate how the EPA’s regulatory plans would impact agriculture.
She pointed out that farmers alone face 10 new federal regulatory requirements, raising the cost of business and making it much more difficult for them to compete globally.
Farmers, she said, want the federal government to “work together with the ag community to set these common-sense goals, instead of using the command and control, top-down approach that this Administration has relied on thus far.”
The trickle down impact of these burdensome regulations will most assuredly be passed onto consumers in the form of increased fuel, fertilizer and energy costs. And even though farms and ranches are not regulated initially under this scheme, beef facilities could be subject to regulation and permitting in the future.
Imagine the army of new unelected bureaucrats that will have to be hired to police the two million farms and ranches in the United States. Imagine the cost to taxpayers.
The EPA’s regulatory efforts have created a counterproductive maze of bureaucracy that threatens the economic security of agribusinesses.
Unless the EPA is stopped, those who live and work on farms and ranches will pay a heavy price. That price will inevitably be shared by the American taxpayer and consumer.