In a major court victory for AFBF and other farm organizations, a unanimous federal court of appeals has ruled that EPA cannot require livestock farmers to apply for Clean Water Act permits unless their farms actually discharge manure into U.S. waters.
The ruling was welcomed by Farm Bureau, the National Pork Producers Council and several other agriculture groups that filed suit against EPA in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit.
“For the second time, a U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled that EPA’s authority is limited by the Clean Water Act to jurisdiction over only actual discharges to navigable waters, not potential discharges,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “We are pleased that the federal courts have again reined in EPA’s unlawful regulation of livestock operations under the Clean Water Act. The court has affirmed that EPA, like other federal agencies, can only regulate where it has been authorized by Congress to do so.”
In the ruling issued Tuesday, the 5th Circuit concluded: “The CWA provides a comprehensive liability scheme and the EPA’s attempt to supplement this scheme is in excess of its statutory authority.”
There is no shortage of news and comment when it comes to the EPA. Ag publications have been filled with stories of new EPA regulations and their effect on producers. But should the EPA have its way, it’s not just agriculture that will suffer for it. Nearly every American will in some way feel the impact of the EPA’s current environmental strategy.
Shawn Martini is Communications Director for Colorado Farm Bureau.
In December, Rep. Darrell Issa, Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform launched an investigation into governmental barriers to business in America. The Chairman sent 171 letters to businesses and industry groups, asking them to outline the regulations and programs that most impeded their operations.
Last month Chairman Issa released the results of his inquiry and the results were very informative. Out of the 113 responses, environmental regulation was most cited as a barrier to business. The EPA was cited over 334 times in the responses regarding their rules on green house gas emissions, ozone and dust, spill prevention, chemical applications etc. The next most cited agency was the Department of Labor with only 55 comments.
The House Energy and Power Subcommittee approved a bill Thursday that would strip EPA of its power to regulate greenhouse gases and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) has promised the bill will come before the House floor within weeks.
AFBF supports H.R. 919, the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011, introduced by Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) that would permanently eliminate EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources like power plants, refineries, farms and ranches. It also overturns a finding by EPA that greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare.
A companion bill has been introduced in the Senate. President Barack Obama has vowed to veto any legislation that would override EPA authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
The House Agriculture Committee passed, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2011, Wednesday. The bill, introduced by Reps. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio), Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio), and Joe Baca (D-Calif.), reduces the regulatory burdens imposed by the National Cotton Council v. EPA case.
The American Farm Bureau Federation is urging Congress to pass H.R. 872. The measure would amend the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the Clean Water Act (CWA) to clarify that CWA permits are not needed when a pesticide is applied in accordance with the FIFRA-approved label.
In related news, EPA last week requested that the court grant a stay of the deadline for permit coverage until Oct. 31. The current court-ordered deadline is April 9. During the period while the court is considering the extension request, permits for pesticide applications will not be required under the CWA.
EPA regulation of greenhouse gas emissions by U.S. oil refineries could drive many of the refineries out of business by placing them at a significant disadvantage to foreign gasoline, according to Charles Drevna, president of the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association.
“Our nation’s petroleum refineries remain one of the last internationally competitive segments of the American manufacturing base,” Drevna wrote in a letter to Gina McCarthy, EPA’s assistant administrator for air and radiation, which NPRA submitted to accompany its oral testimony at EPA’s listening session on implementing GHG regulations under the Clean Air Act.
According to NPRA, U.S. refineries process 95 percent of the gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, heating oil and lubricants that are used domestically.
“There is no guarantee that the U.S. domestic refining manufacturing base will continue to be in existence two or three decades from now,” Drevna said. “Our members’ plants could well go the way of many domestic auto plants, virtually all of our domestic textile mills and many domestic steel plants.”
Shawn Martini is Communications Director for Colorado Farm Bureau.
While inhaling carbon dioxide is essential to plant life, and exhaling it is essential to human life, this same carbon dioxide is now considered a threat to public health, if it comes from a factory or power plant. This according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) who’s made it their mission to protect citizens from the dangerous gas.
On January 2nd of this year, carbon dioxide emissions became “subject to regulation” under the Clean Air Act and the EPA is working furiously with states to further regulate American industry. The coming system of regulatory cap and trade is based on EPA’s endangerment finding: the regulatory tool required by the Clean Air Act to regulate a particular pollutant. In this case the “pollutant” is the same gas we exhale with every breath. The implications of the coming regulations are dire.
By July large emitters of carbon, such as power plants and other industrial facilities will be forced to obtain emissions permits and limit their output of the gas. EPA estimates that “only” 1600 sources nationwide will fall under this “tailoring” rule which only regulates the largest emitters (those that emit over 25,000 tons of CO2). Smaller emitters will be excluded from the regulation.
So why would Farm Bureau and other industries spend so much time opposing a rule that the EPA has exempted them from?
Because all it takes is a lawsuit.
Congressman Fred Upton, (R- Mich.) Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee has said that he plans on hearing testimony from EPA administrator Lisa Jackson so frequently, that he will assign her a parking space at the Capitol.
AFBF supports the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011 that House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) plans to introduce today. Upton’s bill would preempt regulation of greenhouse gases by the Environmental Protection Agency based on climate change considerations.
“The regulation of GHG does not fit within the current framework of the Clean Air Act. Unlike other regulated pollutants, where Clean Air Act thresholds are sufficient to regulate the largest emitters, GHG regulation at statutorily required thresholds holds the prospect of costly and burdensome permit requirements on farms, ranches, schools, hospitals and some large residences,” AFBF President Bob Stallman wrote in a letter sent to Upton today, announcing Farm Bureau’s backing of the bill.
The bill has bipartisan support. House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) plans to be a cosponsor. “The EPA needs to be reined in,” said Peterson.
Across the Capitol, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) plans to introduce a companion bill in the Senate today. Stallman also wrote to Inhofe, pledging Farm Bureau’s support of his bill.