NCC Seeks Congressional Action on EPA Greenhouse Gas Regulation Plan

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January 21, 2010
Contact: T. Cotton Nelson or Marjory Walker
(901) 274-9030

MEMPHIS – The National Cotton Council was joined by 137 other commodity and agricultural organizations in declaring support for Senator Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) introduction of a resolution opposing EPA’s current plan to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. They urged Senate approval of the resolution.

In the NCC-coordinated letter to Senator Murkowski, the groups agreed with her intent to enter a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act regarding EPA’s decision to move forward on regulating carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act (CAA). Such regulatory actions, the letter stated, “will carry severe consequences for the U.S. economy, including America’s farmers and ranchers, through increased input costs and international market disparities.”

Senators Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, have agreed to cosponsor the Murkowski resolution and offered their support for legislation to block EPA’s attempt to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) also has announced her intention to support the resolution. 

In her statement released today, Senator Lincoln said, “I am very concerned about the burden that EPA regulation of carbon emissions could put on our economy and have questions about the actual benefit EPA regulations would have on the environment. Heavy-handed EPA regulation, as well as the current cap and trade bills in Congress, will cost us jobs and put us at an even greater competitive disadvantage to China, India and others. We can make immediate gains to reduce carbon emissions by sending the President bipartisan clean energy legislation produced by the Senate Energy Committee.” 

Senator Chambliss said, “The actions EPA has taken and its plans to regulate greenhouse gas emissions is basically a backdoor tax on every American family and business by unelected bureaucrats.” 

Representative Joe Barton (R-TX) plans to introduce an identical resolution in the House on Friday.

The agricultural groups’ letter to Senator Murkowski also noted that both the current and past Administrations have acknowledged that the CAA is not the appropriate vehicle for establishing greenhouse gas policy. They said this EPA finding -- that greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare -- will trigger CAA regulatory actions such as application of National Ambient Air Quality Standards, New Source Performance Standards, and provisions of the Prevention of Significant Deterioration and Title V programs, essentially establishing greenhouse gas policy through the CAA by default.

“The compliance costs for these CAA programs,” the letter stated, “would be overwhelming as millions of entities, including farms and ranches, would be subject to burdensome CAA regulations. While EPA has attempted to craft a ‘tailoring rule’ to ease such a burden, our experience in these matters is that attempts to administratively relax environmental requirements are routinely challenged in court.”

The groups’ letter also pointed out that the EPA rule itself claims to establish only a weak, indirect link between greenhouse gases and public health and welfare, going so far as to admit there are uncertainties over the net, direct health impacts of the greenhouse gases it is attempting to regulate.

“Further, EPA Administrator Jackson recently acknowledged that unilateral actions by the United States would have no material impact on global warming,” the letter said. “China and India, two of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases, continue to reject any verifiable reduction measures. Without an effective international agreement on emission reductions, unilateral action by the U.S. only serves to further damage our economy and encourage businesses to relocate. EPA's finding puts the agricultural economy at grave risk based on allegations of a weak, indirect link to public health and welfare and despite the lack of any environmental benefit.”