Pennsylvania Farm Bureau voices concerns over EPA greenhouse gas regulations

By Agri-Pulse staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, June 19, 2012 - Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) regulation of greenhouse gases will have dire economic consequences for farmers and ranchers, according to Pennsylvania Farm Bureau President Carl Shaffer.

“The regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act will ultimately result in a number of unintended consequences,” said Shaffer in his testimony to the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Energy and Power. 

The Clean Air Act (CAA) mandates certain regulatory programs for stationary sources that emit regulated pollutants at specified levels. Following the 2009 endangerment finding, proposed by the EPA, greenhouse gases (GHG) are now classified as regulated pollutants. 

The New Source Review (NSR) and Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) programs require that any “major” stationary source obtain a permit before building or modifying any facility that would increase emissions of regulated pollutants.

The CAA defines any stationary source emitting, or having the potential to emit, more than 100 tons of a regulated pollutant as a “major source” required to obtain an operating permit pursuant to Title V.

According to the EPA, there are literally millions of sources that qualify as “major sources” of GHG emissions under Title V, including farms and ranches.

“Fully implemented, the EPA greenhouse gas regulatory programs will require thousands of farms and ranches to obtain costly and burdensome permits,” Shaffer concluded.

Explaining the double economic jolt of these regulations on farmers and ranchers, Shaffer said, “First, any costs incurred by utilities, refiners, manufacturers and other large emitters to comply with GHG regulatory requirements will be passed on to the consumers of those products, including farmers and ranchers.”

“As a result, our nation's farmers and ranchers will be faced with higher input fuel and energy costs, to grow food, fiber and fuel for America and beyond,” he continued. “Secondly, farmers and ranchers will face the distinct possibility of direct regulatory costs resulting from the regulation of greenhouse gases by EPA.”

According to his testimony, EPA itself estimated that there are more than 37,000 farms and ranches that emit between 100 tons and 25,000 tons of GHGs per year and would thus likely be subject to permitting requirements under Title V. 

Using EPA's numbers to make calculations, Shaffer said, “Title V operating permits will cost the agricultural sector more than $866 million.”

Agricultural facilities have not yet been required to obtain CAA permits because EPA issued its “tailoring rule” under which the largest GHG emitters would be permitted first, and permit requirements for others would be phased in over a period of time.

“EPA efforts to ‘tailor' or phase in these regulatory requirements do not alleviate these costs. Large emitters will still pass their costs down to consumers,” Shaffer concluded.

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