WASHINGTON, June 2, 2014— The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) said today the Obama Administration’s latest greenhouse gas proposal would harm the nation’s rural economy if implemented. 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unveiled its draft proposal to cut carbon pollution from the nation's coal-fired power plants on Monday, calling for cutting carbon emissions by 30 percent from 2005 levels. President Barack Obama is using executive authority under the Clean Air Act to implement the climate change measure.

AFBF and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) issued reactions to the proposal today, saying it would increase prices for electricity. 

“U.S. agriculture will pay more for energy and fertilizer under this plan, but the harm won’t stop there,” American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman said. “Effects will especially hit home in rural America.”

Stallman said rural electric cooperatives that rely on old coal plants for cheap electricity would suffer if EPA implements the proposal.

NRECA CEO Jo Ann Emerson said today, “It’s very disappointing and disturbing that the EPA proposed a regulation that goes further than the Clean Air Act allows by taking an ‘outside the fence’ approach to setting the emissions reduction requirements that states must accomplish.”

Today’s announcement follows EPA’s April proposal to define “Waters of the Unites States” under the Clean Water Act, which AFBF is aggressively campaigning against.  

"The greenhouse gas proposal is yet another expensive and expansive overreach by EPA into the daily lives of America's farmers and ranchers,” Stallman said. “Our farmers and ranchers need a climate that fosters innovation, not unilateral regulations that cap our future."

National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson offered an alternative perspective from the agricultural community when he encouraged the administration to work with agriculture by creating voluntary incentives for sequestering carbon, but also warned that regulatory action could cause rural job loss.  

“The changing climate has already begun to affect agriculture, and it is clear that weather volatility will only continue to increase in the coming years unless our policymakers proactively address this challenge,” Johnson said. “I commend the administration for its leadership on climate change mitigation.”

However, he noted that rural electric cooperatives serve farmers and ranchers and are a significant source of rural employment, while accounting for 12 percent of total U.S. electricity sales.

“Any regulatory action must consider the impact on rural electrics and the communities they serve,” he said.

The Center for Rural Affairs said establishing the nation’s first-ever carbon pollution standards is actually the most fiscally responsible course of action.

“Carbon pollution fuels climate change, contributing to more frequent, destructive, costly and deadly drought and extreme weather events,” said Johnathan Hladik, senior advocate for Energy Policy at the Center for Rural Affairs. “Rural and small town Americans have already witnessed these challenges, first-hand, and the threat to jobs and quality of life that accompany them.”

For its part, the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) said the EPA should recognize in its rule that carbon emissions from renewable biomass are fundamentally different from those of fossil fuels.

“EPA is missing an opportunity to give industry clear guidance that using sustainable biomass in energy generation mitigates greenhouse gas emissions by recycling atmospheric carbon,” said Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section.


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