Time is now to address carbon issue

The rush is on to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. As I write this column, the Environ?mental Protection Agency is proceeding with its intention to establish regulations controlling carbon emissions.

As I?ve noted here previously, the only viable option is to seek a legislative fix to counter the 2007 Supreme Court ruling (Massachusetts vs. EPA), which affirmed the EPA has authority to regulate carbon emissions from automobiles and other pollution sources.

If citizens believe they?ve defeated all attempts by Congress by halting or impeding proposed climate change legislation, they are dead wrong. The focus has merely changed from Congress to the EPA. They are moving forward with implementing a cap on carbon emissions, even though EPA head, Lisa Jackson, testified earlier before Congress that they preferred to wait for a legislative fix rather than implement costly and burdensome regulations.

Apparently, Jackson and the EPA have concluded the legislative option may not be forthcoming anytime soon as other priorities take time away from climate change legislation.

Sources in Washington, D.C., inform our National Associa?tion of Wheat Growers headquarters that Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) is working with Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) on an amendment to the FY 2010 Interior-Environment spending bill (HR 2996) to head off any regulatory action by EPA on greenhouse gas emissions.

Their concern: Any administration regulatory action would preempt work in Congress on a bill to address climate change.

Unlike cap-and-trade, this would just be a cap and EPA would charge a fee for every ton of carbon emitted beyond a certain threshold. There is only a downside for agriculture producers and consumers alike, as agriculture offsets (as in a cap and trade revenue option) would not be available under this scenario and consumers and farmers would foot the entire regulatory bill through higher costs of food, consumer goods, energy and transportation.

Kansas Association of Wheat Growers? resolution regarding climate change legislation requires a ?net benefit? threshold to agricultural producers before the grassroots group will consider supporting any legislative option regulating greenhouse gases.

NAWG?s resolution reflects KAWG?s position as well. Having said that, at this writing no official announcement is forthcoming as to what their position will be on the legislative amendment that restricts EPA FY 2010 funding in HR 2996, as discussions between commodity groups and legislators are still in the formative stages.

Having said that, this effort to restrict funding is a short-term fix and does not address the underlying issue giving authority (by the Supreme Court) to the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases.

Where do we go from here? Your legislators need to hear from you and your opinions do matter to them. Rep. Jerry Moran and Sen. Pat Roberts are listening to grassroots commodity organizations and the voters that sent them to Washington, D.C.

Perhaps the question at hand is moot. However, I will state the obvious: Most rural state voters do not even like thinking about global climate change, much less acknowledge that climate change legislation is supported by an overall majority of people.

Even so, will our citizens accept, without oversight, EPA regulations that will negatively impact every facet of their lives if the EPA is allowed to move forward?

I hope not.

We face a new reality on the horizon. Whether we believe that humans are responsible for a warmer atmosphere that threatens our existence on this planet or not, if we stand aside and allow these regulations to be implemented, this will have a negative economic impact on consumers and agricultural producers alike, even though we?ve not provided input on the matter.

I doubt we have the luxury of waiting a decade to see whether the EPA option is better than a legislative fix. In retrospect, I cannot recall any EPA implemented regulation that was rescinded for any reason. Some regulations, like mandating safer automobiles and child restraints, are good, but that is no guarantee all proposed regulations will have a positive outcome.

The time has come for the citizenry to make a difficult, yet courageous choice. It?s time to speak up with a loud, clear message, or we may yet face an unpleasant outcome.

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