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Is this the right climate for climate change?

By Seymour Klierly

Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a proposed rule that would require businesses to report their emissions of the greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. Businesses affected by this rule will include many livestock operations. According to insiders, the intent is to provide EPA with a mechanism to collect emissions data for the development or implementation of future climate change legislation.

The proposal would affect manure management systems that emit 25,000 metric tons of greenhouse gasses or more per year. EPA thinks that this proposal would cover only 40 to 50 livestock operations, in total, but the jury is still out on that. How many will be hit with the new reporting requirement which EPA estimates to cost $900 per facility annually? It is important to remember that this 1,400 page proposed rule is only for data collection. It is not the grand regulatory scheme on climate change expected to come down from the almighty EPA. So, while only 40 or 50 operations may have to comply with this data collection proposal, the information collected will be used to build broader regulations that will impose higher costs on all of agriculture, not just livestock operations.

It is the broader climate change legislation that farmers, ranchers and all America should be cautious of. Included in President Obama's budget proposal is $645 billion worth of federal revenues derived directly from yet to be determined climate change policies over 10 years. That's $645 billion paid by businesses and individuals to the federal government on top of all taxes and other federal government fees.

What does this mean? We can look to last year when an attempt to pass a climate bill stalled on the Senate floor. Opponents were able to defeat the bill highlighting the fact that it would increase the cost of gasoline by 53 cents per gallon and the price of a barrel of oil by $26. You'll remember that, last summer, crude oil prices hit $147 per barrel and gasoline soared over $4 per gallon without climate change legislation. These proposed increases didn't sit well with the voting public. Furthermore, that old climate change bill was estimated to increase the cost of production on all commodities--$31 increase to produce an acre of wheat, $78 per acre of corn, $43 per acre of sorghum, and $20 per acre of soybeans. Majority Leader Reid and Environment and Public Works Chairman Barbara Boxer couldn't defend their proposal in light of these dramatic cost increases and were forced to pull the bill off the Senate calendar.

Today, you can't turn on the TV or radio without someone from the Democratic Party telling us the economy is in shambles. So why drive economic production down further with ill conceived climate change policy, especially one that does not result in measurable global effectiveness? Don't forget, as the U.S. curbs its own greenhouse gas emissions, China, India, Russia and other nations without such strict environmental policy will only increase their emissions. Is this increased economic strain worth it?

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