After a thorough scientific review ordered in 2007 by the U.S. Supreme Court, the Environmental Protection Agency has issued a proposed finding that greenhouse gases contribute to air pollution that may endanger public health or welfare.
The proposed endangerment finding states that in both magnitude and probability, climate change is an enormous problem. The greenhouse gases that are responsible endanger public health and welfare within the meaning of the Clean Air Act. The report continues that the science clearly shows that concentrations of these gases are at unprecedented levels as a result of human emissions, and these high levels are very likely the cause of the increase in average temperatures and other changes in our climate.
"The American Farm Bureau Federation is deeply concerned about the impact of the EPA's finding on greenhouse gas emissions," said AFBF President Bob Stallman. "The agency's announcement could lead to harmful consequences with the government overextending its arm into every facet of the economy, including the agriculture industry."
According to the Agriculture Department, any agricultural operation of more than 25 dairy cows, 50 beef cattle, 200 hogs or 500 acres of corn would be subject to emission fees that could run into thousands of dollars and is expected to impact more than 90% of the livestock industry.
"This announcement is a slippery slope for agriculture. Traditionally, farmers are price 'takers,' not price 'makers,' and most farmers will be simply unable to pass along such costs," Stallman said. "For those lucky enough to do so, the higher costs will be passed along in the prices for milk, hamburgers and bacon. For many others, however, the imposition of taxes of this magnitude would force them out of business."
The proposed endangerment finding now enters the public comment period, which is the next step in the deliberative process EPA must undertake before issuing final findings. Friday's proposed finding does not include any proposed regulations.