A new proposal released Monday by the Environmental Protection Agency aimed at decreasing carbon pollution 30% by 2030 clearly puts a target on the backs of existing power plants, but what is its impact on ag?
That's the question farm groups are trying to answer as they review the proposal, part of the Obama Administration's larger Climate Action Plan. The industry has a stake in the discussion as food production and quality natural resources remain an integral piece of the complex climate equation.
A few groups not surprisingly have developed opposing positions on the EPA announcement. National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson said the plan provides benefits to agriculture in that it curbs atmospheric carbon contributions – and that the ag industry should weigh in.
"Agriculture stands ready to be an important part of the solution to our climate challenges. I encourage Congress and the administration to engage the agricultural community in reducing carbon pollution by creating voluntary incentives for sequestering carbon and implementing conservation strategies that preserve our limited soil and water resources," he said in a statement.
Johnson also pointed to the Renewable Fuel Standard as an option for controlling climate change.
"The Renewable Fuel Standard is currently the most important policy we have to address climate change," he said, reinforcing the group's position that RFS volumes shouldn't be altered for 2014.
The American Farm Bureau Federation, however, views the plan as a hindrance to agriculture. The group suggests that if the plan is approved, farmers could see higher energy and fertilizer prices.
"U.S. agriculture will pay more for energy and fertilizer under this plan, but the harm won't stop there," AFBF President Bob Stallman said. "Effects will especially hit home in rural America. Our farmers and ranchers need a climate that fosters innovation, not unilateral regulations that cap our future."
Others suggest agriculture stands to gain from the new rulemaking as it simply diverts attention away from the industry's own carbon emissions. But viewed from any direction, it's clear that the proposal requires a closer look from farmers and farm groups alike.
For more details on the EPA's Clean Power Plan, follow the links to news and commentary below.
1. EPA Sets Draft Rule to Cut Carbon Emissions by 30% by 2030. Wall Street Journal
2. Strange bedfellows in EPA's carbon rule. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
3. EPA's Gina McCarthy offers brief overview of proposed Climate Plan. EPA Blog
4. EPA carbon proposal faces major hurdles. Politico
5. EPA's CO2 reduction proposal could be positive for biomass energy. Biomass Magazine
6. Business groups close ranks for climate battle. The Hill