National Cattlemen’s Beef Association — A Climate Change Hero…?

Painting by Sue Coe

David Cassuto

Guess what?  Apparently, human contributions to climate change is still iffy science and even if it weren’t, the beef industry sequesters rather than releases carbon and should be rewarded for its zealous fight against climate change.  So says the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA).  According to the NCBA, agriculture was responsible for less than 6% of total U.S. GHG emissions while land use, land use change, and forestry activities resulted in a net carbon soil sequestration of approximately 17.4% of total U.S. CO2 emissions, or 14.9% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Consequently, “Agriculture actually provides a significant net benefit to the climate change equation,” said Tamara Theis, chief environmental counsel for the NCBA. “Rather than being subject to overly-burdensome regulations, agriculture should be rewarded for the carbon reductions we provide.”

Note the deft rhetorical move: land use, land use change and forestry do not necessarily have anything to do with agriculture.  Nevertheless, Big Ag is taking credit for it while also underselling its role in emissions.  Such claims would be laughable if they weren’t so pernicious.  Well, actually, they’re still laughable.  But they’re also dangerous.  The NCBA has just filed suit in the DC Circuit challenging EPA’s right to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.  Now, you may be saying — isn’t this what Massachusetts vs. EPA was all about?  How can the NCBA challenge a Supreme Court ruling?  

Alas, it’s more complicated than that.  The Court found that greenhouse gases are air pollutants covered by the Clean Air Act and that the EPA Administrator must (under Section 202 of the Clean Air Act) determine greenhouse gases emissions cause or contribute to air pollution which may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare, or whether the science is too uncertain to make such a finding.  Bush’s EPA never acted on the Court’s directive but Obama’s has.  On December 7th, 2009, the EPA determined that greenhouse gases were indeed a dangerous pollutant under the Clean Air Act and issued an Endangerment Finding.

It is that finding that the NCBA now challenges.  Its argument is the finding could hurt American agriculture and besides the science is iffy.  “This unilateral move by the EPA jeopardizes our ability to remain competitive in the global marketplace,” said Theis.  In addition “It’s premature to issue this kind of finding, especially given the recent controversy surrounding the scientific validity of alleged human contributions to climate change,”

These types of maneuvers were expected and (in my view) unlikely to succeed on the merits.  However, what they can and will do is cause delay and erode what little political will exists for taking genuine steps to combat climate change.  Hard on the heels of Copenhagen, where it took so much to accomplish so little, this cynical ploy of the NCBA offers another reminder of how hard it is to get people to act in anything other than their own short term interests.

Home > News > NCBA News Printer-Friendly Version
NCBA News

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:                        Bethany Shively, 202-347-0228 or bshively@beef.org

EPA Greenhouse Gas Ruling Could be Devastating to Agriculture

WASHINGTON (Dec. 8, 2009) – The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) is extremely concerned about the potential impacts that the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recent greenhouse gas (GHG) ruling could have on agriculture operations. EPA’s decision, announced yesterday, claims that GHG emissions are an endangerment to public health and the environment. This sets the stage for greenhouse regulation under the Clean Air Act (CAA) and would give the EPA unprecedented control over every sector of the U.S. economy.

“It’s premature to issue this kind of finding, especially given the recent controversy surrounding the scientific validity of alleged human contributions to climate change,”

3 Responses

  1. Human contributions to climate change is NOT iffy science. Beef industry releases not sequesters carbon dioxide. Even if the unilateral move by the EPA jeopardizes the ability to remain competitive in
    the global marketplace that is consistent with justice. The poor deserve some push to save them
    even if that comes at the cost of losses to the rich nations.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Pace Law Library, Animal Blawg. Animal Blawg said: #animalrights National Cattlemen’s Beef Association — A Climate Change Hero…? http://bit.ly/8RggDn […]

  3. Imagine if we had a process to remove billions of tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere safely, quickly and cost-effectively – while at the same time reversing desertification, boosting biodiversity, enhancing global food security and improving the lives of hundreds of millions of people in rural and regional areas around our planet?

    We do – it’s called changed grazing management and soil carbon.

    Please take a look at the presentations on http://www.soilcarbon.com.au to learn more.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: