Dec 11, 2009

Climatic politics

Climatic politics

It’s becoming clear as a bell that the Obama administration is carrying out a full frontal attack on the American economy and society. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is perhaps his most profound tool to inflict this damage.

EPA announced last week that they would initiate the rule-making process to start regulating greenhouse gasses (GHG). Last spring, EPA made the determination that carbon dioxide was an air pollutant and harmful to the populous. They intend on taking sole responsibility for regulating how much carbon dioxide our industries will be allowed to produce under the Clean Air Act, even though carbon dioxide is a natural gas produced by the biologic process in addition to burning fossil fuels.

Lisa Jackson, secretary of the EPA, said in her announcement that "the findings I make today are firmly grounded in science," which seems kind of bold since many of the top climate scientists were recently found to have been cajoling the data they used to build their case. They then tried to keep it a secret. Apparently, the administration chose to ignore any of this damaging information that would make any logical person ponder the issue’s credibility.

Do you suppose it was a coincidence that Jackson made the announcement last Monday, the same day the Global Climate Change meetings started in Copenhagen, Denmark? This demonstrates the fact that climate change has become more about politics than science.

It would appear that the administration’s intention to announce this economically damaging decision is part of an effort to get the Senate to act on pending climate change legislation. It’s nothing more than a game of politics and power, being played at its highest level. The House of Representatives has already produced a bill that includes a cap and trade provision on industries that emit GHGs, which will affect our society and economy drastically. The Senate has been reluctant to take it up because it’s radical.

EPA said they will only require permits from big emitters—facilities that put out 25,000 or more tons of carbon dioxide annually. However, the effort to tailor the regulations to avoid damaging small business with new costs is expected to end up in court. With that statement from EPA, it appears that they have already decided who the winners and losers will be. Unfortunately, everyone loses if EPA is allowed to proceed. We expect this to be hung up in the courts for some time.

Twenty-five thousand tons isn’t all that much when you consider one grazed cow produces about 18 pounds of GHG per year, according to EPA. Any ranch with 1,600 head or more could be regulated. Most feedlots will certainly be subject to more EPA regulation. However, last week during the Nick Petry global warming workshop held at the National Western Stock Complex, Dr. Terry Mader, Nebraska Extension specialist, said that grazing cattle produce more GHG than cattle fed concentrated grain rations. The more efficiently cattle are raised, the lower their GHG emissions are. He also said that feeding Rumensen can lower GHG by 6 percent and that implants also reduce GHG because they decrease the number of average days cattle are on feed. I wonder if that would make the European Union less inclined to make an issue over hormones? Mader also said producing natural or organic beef cattle raises GHG because of the less efficient production scheme.

EPA’s Jackson also said in her announcement that her ruling on the danger posed by GHG would "cement 2009’s place in history" as the moment when the U.S. began seizing the opportunity for clean-energy reform. The Wall Street Journal said in an editorial that she is right, that this is a historic decision, though not to Jackson’s or the White House’s credit, and that seizing is the right term. President Obama isn’t about to let a trifle like a lack of majority consent impede his climate agenda.

On the plus side, an amendment was placed in the Interior Department appropriations bill signed into law Oct. 31 that prohibits any funds allocated by the appropriations bill to be used for implementation of regulations requiring the issuance of permits, or mandatory reporting of GHG by livestock operations for one year. So, livestock operations got a free pass for one year, but that isn’t good enough. — PETE CROW