Study demands farmers lower N in environment
A news release issued by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) announced that scientists associated with this activist environmentalist group and serving on a five-year Environmental Protection Agency Science Advisory Board (SAB) are reasonably happy with the board’s report, which details “the environmental threat posed by nitrogen pollution in the United States."
The news release includes wording that indicates the UCS expects the EPA will be using the report to set policy because it is coming from a “team of science advisors” to the agency.
The conclusion of the report has apparently been released, but details are to be explained this week. The report contends nitrogen pollution is deadly and caused by “industrial agriculture and burning fossil fuels.” It would appear that the report intends to sensationalize environmental situations by making broad statements about “nitrogen pollution contaminates drinking water, kills millions of fish, damages soil and creates a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico that scientists recently predicted would grow this summer to the size of the state of New Jersey.”
The new report, “Reactive Nitrogen in the United States: an Analysis of Inputs, Flows, Consequences, and Management Options,” investigated the sources and risks of “reactive nitrogen.” It was explained that “plants and animals need this form of nitrogen to live, but when released into the environment in large quantities, it can damage ecosystems and cause health problems.
“The report will recommend ways to significantly reduce this pollution,” according to the UCS.
“Industrial agricultural practices, especially poorly managed livestock manure and excess fertilizer use, are the major culprit, accounting for 65 percent of human-caused nitrogen pollution nationally,” the UCS news release claims. “Vehicle exhaust and coal-fired power plant emissions are other significant sources, but EPA regulations and improved pollution-control technologies have reduced their contribution to approximately 20 percent of overall U.S. nitrogen emissions.”
The conclusion is that the cost of nitrogen pollution is considerable, but a U.S. dollar figure was not provided at this point. Instead, a study from Europe provided a dollar cost. “An April European Nitrogen Assessment, for example, concluded that nitrogen pollution costs Europe $100 billion to $457 billion in U.S. dollars annually,” the UCS noted.
The UCS is already demanding farmers cut nitrogen use “even more dramatically than what the SAB report is likely to recommend.”