EPA greenhouse gas plan will hurt ag and the economy
The Environmental Protection Agency’s latest greenhouse gas proposal will harm the nation’s economy, rural communities and America’s farm and ranch families if implemented, the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) president said.
The EPA’s attempt to impose a 30-percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions on the nation’s power plants will lead to higher energy prices, AFBF contends. Farmers will face not just higher prices for electricity, but any energy-related input such as fertilizer. No rural business will be immune to higher costs in doing business, according to critics. Rural electric cooperatives that rely on old coal plants for cheap electricity will be especially hard hit.
The AFBF is only one of many dissenters to the EPA rule change plan. A union representing utility workers and others, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), made their own points against the EPA change with more detail than the AFBF.
“U.S. agriculture will pay more for energy and fertilizer under this plan, but the harm won’t stop there,” AFBF President Bob Stallman said. “Effects will especially hit home in rural America.”
The IBEW reported it is studying the lengthy rule on carbon emissions for existing facilities, but announced “our concerns with the EPA’s new rule are the same as we have expressed over past agency dictates—namely that the regulations focus solely on the environmental aspect of public policy at the expense of balancing our nation’s economic and energy needs.”
Consistent with the AFBF, the IBEW suggested that a balanced energy portfolio is the right approach at this time because renewable energy such as wind and solar are simply not ready to replace other fuel sources in meeting the demand for electrical power and will not be for the foreseeable future. The logical expectation would be for more natural gas electrical production in the short term. But IBEW contends, “Our nation has learned from bitter experience that relying too heavily on one energy source is not a sound policy.”
The toughest statement from the IBEW came in a description about previous EPA rules. “The EPA has a track record of underestimating the impact of its rules, making faulty predictions that have cost tens of thousands of good jobs. In 2011 the IBEW and several other unions testified before the agency, predicting that 56 gigawatts of generation would be lost due to plant closings under then-proposed rules. At the time, the EPA estimated only 4.7 gigawatts would be lost. Our experience in the industry enabled us to see what the agency’s models could not. Approximately 90 percent of the plants scheduled to close were required to run during last winter’s polar vortex to prevent grid disruption. Experts now confirm that 56 gigawatts will indeed be lost by 2016. We will critically examine the new rules to determine how much additional capacity could be lost, and we hope the EPA will take our estimates seriously this time.”
Stallman added a complaint about the EPA expansion of the Clean Water Act under the “Waters of the United States” proposal “that would unlawfully increase the agency’s role in regulating America’s farms under the Clean Water Act. AFBF responded with a formal campaign to “Ditch the Rule.”’
"The greenhouse gas proposal is yet another expensive and expansive overreach by EPA into the daily lives of America's farmers and ranchers,” Stallman said. “Our farmers and ranchers need a climate that fosters innovation, not unilateral regulations that cap our future."
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