WASHINGTON — The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association filed a petition Dec. 23 in the DC Circuit Court of Appeals challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent greenhouse gas (GHG) “endangerment finding” rule.
The endangerment finding does not in and of itself regulate greenhouse gases, but it is a step in the process for GHG regulation under the Clean Air Act.
The rule provides the foundation for EPA for the first time to regulate GHGs from small and large sources throughout the economy, including farms, hospitals, office buildings and schools.
The cattlemen’s association claims EPA’s finding is not based on scientific analysis, “yet it would trigger a cascade of future greenhouse gas regulations with sweeping impacts across the entire U.S. economy,” said Tamara Thies, chief environmental counsel.
“Why the administration decided to move forward on this type of rule when there’s so much uncertainty surrounding humans’ contribution to climate change is perplexing.”
The farm group claims because of this rule, for example, EPA will be able to tell farmers that they can only emit a certain level of GHGs; if they go over that amount, they can incur penalties and be forced to curtail production.
The rule also sets the stage for citizen suits.
“EPA has decided to trump Congress and mandate greenhouse gas regulation under the Clean Air Act,” said Thies. “The act is ill-equipped to address climate change, and Congress never intended for it to be used for that purpose.”
Under the rule, EPA defined air pollution to include six greenhouse gases, and stated that manmade greenhouse gases endanger public health and the environment.
Asking court to overturn
The petition NCBA filed, as part of a coalition of interested parties, is the first step in asking the DC Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn EPA’s rule due to a lack of sound or adequate basis for making the finding of endangerment from anthropogenic GHGs.
According to the EPA, in 2007, GHG emissions from the entire U.S. agriculture sector represented less than 6 percent of total U.S. GHG emissions, and the livestock industry emitted only 2.8 percent.
At the same time, land use, land use change, and forestry activities resulted in a net carbon sequestration of approximately 17.4 percent of total U.S. carbon dioxide emissions, or 14.9 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
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