In a 53 to 47 roll-call vote Thursday, the U.S. Senate rejected a resolution intended to stop the Environmental Protection Agendy from imposing regulations on greenhouse gases.

Jon Scholl, President of American Farmland Trust offers the following comments:

"The failure of the Murkowski Amendment to pass in the Senate today makes clear that efforts to delay Environmental Protection Agency regulation of green house gasses under the Clean Air Act, through similar legislation or lawsuits are not likely to succeed.

"As the single largest user of land and water resources in the United States, agriculture has a significant impact on the nation's environment. Agriculture also is one of the most cost effective ways to improve two of our nation's most pressing environmental challenges -- waater quality and climate change, and it is possible for agriculture to remain profitable while addressing these challenges.

"The agriculture and conservation communities, and Congress, are certainly aware that the Supreme Court has mandated that in the absence of a legislative solution to address GHG, EPA must enact regulations under the Clean Air Act, even though most acknowledge that regulation is not the ideal solution.    

"An independent analysis by Informa Economics, Inc., for AFT and the National Association of Wheat Growers concluded that a large segment of U.S. farmers and rural America can benefit significantly from properly structured clean energy legislation, with a net benefit to agriculture, and in particular wheat farmers. The study also concludes that if no climate change legislation is passed, direct regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would harm agriculture and farmers more than a bill.

"The Informa Economics, Inc., analysis recommends four key policy points that U.S. farmers and ranchers should seek in climate and energy legislation:

  • Carbon allowances distributed to the fertilizer industry are critical to keeping cost impacts down, and those allowances must be maintained and passed on to the farmer;
  • Maximum carbon offsetting opportunities;
  • Ensure continued enrollment in offset programs for as long as possible; and
  • Involvement in establishing methodologies used to calculate sequestration rates for various carbon offsetting activities.
  • "In addition, the Informa Economics, Inc., study points to billions of dollars of benefits flowing to agriculture through a Renewable Energy Standard, which is also part of a clean energy and climate legislative solution.

"By maximizing agriculture's participation in clean energy legislation, we can maximize the environmental benefits the bill will bring, and generate new income opportunities for farmers and ranchers who will be producing renewable energy and carbon offsets, and making other GHG reductions."

Statement by Bob Stallman, President, American Farm Bureau Federation:

"The American Farm Bureau is disappointed that the Senate failed to halt the Environmental Protection Agency's regulation of greenhouse gases by failing to approve S.J. Res. 26. This was one of the most important votes in the Senate this year affecting U.S. agriculture.   

"Additional EPA regulation for farmers will likely mean higher food costs for consumers because of higher input and energy costs to grow our food and result in negative economic impacts on the agriculture sector.

"Importantly, this vote also brought into question who should decide our nation's energy policy -- elected lawmakers or a regulatory agency.  It is regrettable the Senate answered this question as it did. The vote against S.J. Res. 26 allows EPA to embark on the ambitious and unprecedented regulation of the American economy without congressional input.

"Farm Bureau commends Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) for their work on this issue and all of the members who voted in favor of S. J. Res. 26." 

Source: AFT, AFBF