Cap and trade: Congress may be out, but the EPA may have final say

WASHINGTON — Many legislators feel the issue may be dead for now, but cap and trade still has many farmers concerned about the future.

The Ohio Farm Bureau’s county presidents made their annual trip to Washington D.C. last week to let the members of Congress know they are not in favor of the cap and trade proposal.

Some counties leaders found Congressional delegates in their corner; others did not.

On Capitol Hill, county presidents could be heard reiterating the same points: The cap and trade legislation will impose higher energy and food costs for consumers, raise fuel and fertilizer and energy costs for farmers, shackle Ohio farmers with new costs and offer few benefits to farmers.

The bill, H.R. 2454, passed the House in 2009, but S.B. 1733, has stalled in the Senate and is expected to stay there with this session.

However, it was clear cap-and-trade is still a concern for many of the trip attendees, because while it may be considered a non-issue in congress, it is a different story with the Environmental Protection Agency.

This is because the EPA now has the power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. In December, the EPA made its official “endangerment finding” that said six greenhouse gases — carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride — “threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations.”

The finding paves the way for EPA regulation of greenhouse gases being released, regulations such as the “cow tax,” digesters requirements, and a construction permit process for farms, have been suggested. Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA could develop other regulations as it sees fit and begin enforcement.

U.S. Sen. George Voinovich told the group he is not for a one-size-fits-all approach to the problem.

“I’m not going to support any kind of economy-wide cap and trade system,” Voinovich said.

He wants to instead fund the development of biofuels including ethanol. He suggested finding more sources of fuel and using less of the natural resources that can’t be replaced readily.

A group of Farm Bureau presidents from Mahoning, Portage and Summit counties pressed the issue when they met with an aide from Rep. Tim Ryan’s office.

Ryan voted in favor of the cap and trade bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in June 2009.

U.S. Rep. John Boccieri also voted in favor of the bill, but took the time to explain why to the presidents of Wayne, Mahoning, Medina, Stark and Ashland counties.

Boccieri explained that agriculture and forestry are exempt from the bill, and he feels that it holds benefits to farmers with the creation of carbon credits.

Boccieri also said if the EPA takes over regulation of the problem, it will be a bandage for the problem and it will not take in to consideration different U.S. industries.

An aide from Rep. Steven LaTourette’s office also met with a local group to discuss cap and trade. The aide said LaTourette does not support cap and trade and that the congressman feels it is a dead issue for the time being.

About the Author

Kristy Foster Seachrist lives in Columbiana County raising sheep and horses. She earned her degree from Youngstown State University and has worked in both print and broadcast journalism. You can follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/fosterk96. More Stories by Kristy Foster Seachrist

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