While the Obama Administration and Congressional Democrats know that passing so-called environmental legislation will be a tough sell to the American people, the White House is bypassing the legislative process by using the Environmental Protection Agency.
In a landmark decision in 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the EPA possessed the legal authority to regulate so-called greenhouse gases.
As a result of the court bestowing such power on that agency -- and the likelihood that Cap and Trade and similar legislation will not reach President Obama's desk for signing -- EPA officials have declared carbon dioxide and other gases to be a threat to the environment and to the health of Americans. They are currently formulating regulations to restrict emissions from automobiles and trucks, power plants and other sources.
For example, last January, the EPA proposed a rule to lower the primary National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ozone from the current standard of 75 parts per billion (ppb) to a level between 60 and 70 ppb. Under the Clean Air Act, areas that do not meet the new standard would then be considered “non-attainment” (NA).
An NA designation can hinder economic development and limit business expansion in an already struggling economy. EPA cites no new health studies as the reason for lowering the standard, but believes the prior administration did not go far enough in 2008 when the standard was lowered from 80 ppb to 75 ppb.
EPA’s proposal would have the following effects in North Carolina:
* The majority of counties with ozone monitors would exceed the new standard under baseline conditions;
* In some cases, businesses would have to reduce emissions by more than 70 percent;
* With existing technology, less than half of the necessary reductions would be achieved. This means that even if business installed all available controls, EPA’s proposal will not be achievable and many counties would be in perpetual non-attainment; and
* It would cost North Carolina businesses and individuals as much as $4.2 billion, according to EPA own estimates.
Restrictive permit requirements discourage companies from building or expanding major manufacturing facilities in the state. These requirements include offsetting new emissions and installing the maximum emission reduction technology without consideration of costs.
Federal funding for highway and transit projects can be lost unless the state demonstrates that the projects will not increase emissions. Costly compliance will make North Carolina businesses less competitive and thus lead to direct employment losses. These direct losses will generate larger overall losses through multiplier effects.
In addition to EPA's impact on the industrial sector, the EPA plans to initiate a so-called greenhouse gas tax on privately owned dairy farms and livestock.
Under Title V of the Clean Air Act, farmers would pay a hefty permit fee for animals that emit 100 tons of greenhouse gasses annually, affecting the vast majority of the nation's livestock operations.
Any farm with more than 25 dairy cows, 50 beef cattle or 200 hogs would have to obtain a permit to operate, which, according to the United State Department of Agriculture, would cover 99 percent of dairy production, 95 percent of its hog production and 90 percent of beef production.
According to one organization, the New York Farm Bureau, the new permits would cost farmers well over $110 million a year, dramatically impacting the agricultural sector and economy. The tax is estimated at $175 per dairy cow, $87.50 per head of beef cattle and $20 per hog. The added financial burden on already-struggling farmers could force many family farms out of business and lead to a raise in food prices.
While greenhouse gas contributes to global warming -- according to some scientists and liberal-left politicians -- not all emissions are equal. Under this federal proposal, livestock is held as accountable as the industrial and transportation sectors, which is simply illogical. That's essentially saying that a living, breathing cow is as detrimental to the environment as a coal-powered machine. US Department of Agriculture statistics indicate that the permit requirement and tax would include 99 percent of milk production, more than 90 percent of beef production and more than 95 percent of all hog production in the United States.
In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency has told Maryland's poultry farmers it intends to enforce for the first time federal pollution rules governing chicken manure -- a crackdown that has surprised and angered growers while pleasing environmentalists who've long complained about agricultural runoff fouling
At meetings between EPA officials and farm associations, attendees were told that hundreds of farmers must get federal pollution-discharge permits if any manure from their flocks are washing off their land into drainage ditches and streams. More than half of Marylan's 800 poultry farmers have filed notices to get the permits, state officials say, but most observers are not confident of being successful unless the case goes to the US Supreme Court and before President Obama has an opportunity to nominate more leftist SCOTUS justices.
Many Washington lawmakers, however, on both sides of the isle view this latest EPA move as a negative plan of action.
For example, New York's Democrat Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's office told the Washington Times editorial page writers that she stands behind her position from December of 2008, which is that "individuals should not be taxed for methane emissions coming from their farms."
While in the House of Representatives, Sen. Gillibrand -- who recently was appointed a Senator to fill the seat left by Hillary Clinton -- served on the Agricultural Committee. When asked about the EPA plan to tax animal flatulence, then New York Representative Kirsten Gillibrand, on the House Agriculture Committee, said, "[T]he whole idea stinks."