The House is currently debating H.R. 1, a resolution to fund the federal government through the end of this fiscal year. In it contains many amendments of importance to agriculture.
Rep. John Sullivan, R-Okla., has proposed an amendment (No. 94) to the House spending bill that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from using appropriated funds to increase the amount of allowable ethanol content in gasoline to 15% (E15).
Auto manufacturers joined with food and grocery groups in support of the amendment. “Protection of the environment and the nation’s motorists must take precedence over the politics of biofuels,” the groups wrote. “Simply stated, this amendment will call a halt to EPA’s headlong rush to introduce E15 at least until unbiased and independent testing on the impact.”
Another amendment (No. 253) filed by Jeff Flake, R-Az., would bar USDA funds from helping to install blender pumps. The Flake Amendment mandates that 90% of the U.S. fuel be gasoline derived from oil – two-thirds of which is from overseas.
Another letter, signed by a diverse group of business associations, hunger and development organizations, agricultural groups, environmental groups, budget hawks and free marketers urged support for the Flake amendment. “We believe that taxpayers should not foot the bill for ethanol infrastructure; instead, this cost should be borne on the fuel providing (ethanol and oil) industries themselves,” the letter stated.
Growth Energy urged a "no" vote on both amendments. "The ultimate outcome of both of these amendments will be to perpetuate our nation's dependence on foreign oil. The Sullivan amendment injects politics where it doesn’t belong – in regulatory affairs that are decided by sound science rather than politics. A full and immediate move to E15 would create more than 136,000 new jobs in the U.S., reduce our dependence on foreign oil by 7 billion gallons, reduce harmful emissions equivalent to removing 1.35 million cars from the road, and revitalize our rural communities," said Growth Energy chief executive officer Tom Buis. "At the same time, preventing the Administration from implementing policies that will develop our nation's renewable fuel infrastructure will only limit consumer choice at the pump and maintain the status quo."
Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., introduced an amendment that would block any funds from being used by the EPA to modify the national primary ambient air quality standard or the national secondary ambient air quality standard applicable to coarse particulate matter (dust).
National Cattlemen's Beef Association President Bill Donald said last summer EPA laid the foundation to regulate dust at the unprecedented level of 65-85 ug/m3, which is essentially twice as stringent as the current standard. He said if EPA moves forward with a proposed rule later this year, vast rural and agricultural areas of the West and Midwest would be put into nonattainment and farmers and ranchers could be fined for everyday activities ranging from tilling soil, moving cattle, driving on unpaved roads or planting and harvesting crops.
“Representative Noem understands our industry and our way of life. She is a rancher herself and knows that in our business, dust is inevitable," Donald said.
NCBA recently commissioned a study to determine the number of areas across the country that would be adversely affected by a revised standard. The study concluded the number of areas that would fall into nonattainment goes up by almost 250% if the standard is lowered from the current standard of 150 µg/m3with a 99th percentile form to a level of 65 µg/m3with a 98thpercentile form.
Reining in EPA
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) also said it supports efforts by Reps. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and Tom Rooney, R-Fla., to stop the EPA from implementing its Total Maximum Daily Load rule for the Chesapeake Bay and its numeric nutrient criteria rule for the State of Florida, respectively. The representatives offered amendments to block funding to implement these two regulations.
NCBA, as part of the Agriculture Nutrient Policy Council, commissioned a study regarding the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay TMDL. The study found EPA’s input assumptions regarding agriculture were vastly different from the more factually- and scientifically-based determinations made by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). NRCS found that agriculture contributed much less pollution to the Bay than EPA’s TMDL model claims. In addition, the NRCS discovered that the EPA’s model did not give producers credit for conservation practices they implemented voluntarily.
Policy is one of the most important issues facing farmers today, but often the most difficult to digest. Jacqui Fatka has a passion to decode the often difficult world of agricultural policy into terms understandable for today's ag players.
Fatka joined the Farm Progress team as E-Content Editor in August 2003 after graduating from Iowa State University. Prior to full-time employment with Farm Progress, she interned at Wallaces Farmer magazine, Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley's press office and the Iowa Pork Producers Association and freelanced for National Hog Farmer. She also worked as a public relations consultant with Iowa Industries for the Future, an effort to bring together major players in the biorenewables industry.
Currently Fatka is a staff editor at a sister publication, Feedstuffs. For Farm Futures she regularly tells the story of ongoing agricultural policy changes. Her byline can also be found on management profiles.
Fatka grew up on a grain and livestock farm near Atlantic, Iowa. She currently lives in central Ohio with her husband Eric, and their three children - Josiah, Spencer and Avonell.
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