Rural reactions to EPA rule follow expected lines | TSLN.com

Rural reactions to EPA rule follow expected lines

The reactions from farm groups and rural senators to the Environmental Protection Agency's announcement last week of a proposed rule to cut carbon emissions from power plants by 30 percent have followed the expected ideological and regional lines.

The American Farm Bureau Federation said the proposal "will harm the nation's economy, rural communities and America's farm and ranch families if implemented. Farmers would face not just higher prices for electricity, but any energy-related input such as fertilizer. Rural electric cooperatives that rely on old coal plants for cheap electricity would be especially hard hit."

"U.S. agriculture will pay more for energy and fertilizer under this plan, but the harm won't stop there," Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman said. "Effects will especially hit home in rural America."

National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson had a different viewpoint.

"The changing climate has already begun to affect agriculture, and it is clear that weather volatility will only continue to increase in the coming years unless our policymakers proactively address this challenge. I commend the administration for its leadership on climate change mitigation."

Johnson added that Congress and the administration should create "voluntary incentives for sequestering carbon and implementing conservation strategies that preserve our limited soil and water resources."

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Johnson also said that he considers the Renewable Fuel Standard to be "the most important policy we have to address climate change," and that EPA should withdraw its proposal to reduce RFS volumetric requirements for renewable fuels.

He added that EPA should recognize that rural electric cooperatives provide power to 42 million Americans and account for 12 percent of total U.S. electricity sales.

"Any regulatory action must consider the impact on rural electrics and the communities they serve," Johnson said.

Sens. John Barasso, R-Wyo., and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.l, wrote today in The Wall Street Journal that the new "anti-coal rules will cut jobs and hurt the economy."

"The 645-page rule would give states a few options to reduce emissions. Those options are still very restrictive and will take away good jobs, increase energy costs and hurt the economy," Barasso and Heitkamp wrote.

But Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., welcomed the proposal.

"I strongly support the president's decision to confront greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants. These power plants account for nearly 40 percent of U.S. emissions and need to be regulated," Feinstein said in a news release.

"The EPA proposal offers an opportunity to address climate change while at the same time improving our electricity system. As states consider how to meet these goals, I encourage them to look at California's cap-and-trade program," she added.

Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., said, "For those living in states already seeing the impacts of climate change, today's proposal to regulate our nation's largest source of carbon pollution has been a long time coming. Delaware, and other states feeling the impacts of climate change, have already taken action to reduce local power plant carbon emissions. Unfortunately, a few states cannot tackle this issue alone – all states must do their fair share to make an impact. Today's Clean Power Plan unites our country in working to take on the largest source of carbon emissions together. I applaud the president for his leadership for moving forward with this rule."

–The Hagstrom Report