Christmas Eve Action Aims to Stop EPA Moves

National Cattlemen's Beef Association goes to court challenging the agency's greenhouse gas rule.

Published on: Dec 25, 2009

A holiday season is not going to stop beef producers from getting their day in court as the National Cattlemen's Beef Association files a petition this week in the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. The group is challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency "endangerment finding" rule regarding greenhouse gases.

"EPA's finding is not based on a rigorous 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," Thies said.

NCBA notes the endangerment finding does not, in and of itself, regulate GHGs, but is a step in the process toward GHG regulation under the Clean Air Act. The group notes that the rule provides a foundation for EPA for the first time to regulate the gases from small to large sources throughout the economy, including farms, hospitals, office buildings and schools.

The group offers up this example: Because of this rule, 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 severe penalties and be forced to curtail production. And the rule opends the door to lawsuits against large and small businesses.

NCBA filed comments in opposition of the EPA proposal in April. The petition filed this week was as part of a coalition of interested parties and is the first step in asking the DC Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn EPA's rule due to lack of sound science or adequate basis for making the finding of endangerment from anthropogenic GHGs (the ones caused by humans).

NCBA also notes the following facts: according to the EPA, in 2007, GHG emissions from the entire U.S. agriculture sector represented less than 6% of total U.S. GHG emissions, and the livestock industry emitted only 2.8%. At the same time, land use, land use change, and forestry activities resulted in a net carbon sequestration of approximately 17.4% of total U.S. carbon dioxide emissions, or 14.9% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.