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House Appropriations Clears EPA Spending Bill

2010budgetThe House Appropriations Committee has approved a $10.6-billion spending bill for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with several amendments aimed at protecting agricultural interests from the federal climate regulations, reports the New York Times’ Greenwire.

The Greenwire reports that the House Appropriations Committee cleared the fiscal 2010 Interior and Environment spending bill after adding provisions to block EPA regulations that require factory farms to report their greenhouse gas emissions and exempt livestock operations from possible carbon regulations. The amendment prohibits the EPA from requiring Clean Air Act permits for carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases emitted by livestock.

In March, EPA proposed a rule that would establish a national reporting system for industries to document their greenhouse gas emissions. This covers about 13,000 facilities nationwide including large factory farms.

Some agriculture groups and farm-state lawmakers are concerned that if the EPA moves to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, the environmental agency could impose fees on livestock operations for their methane emissions, although EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has said the agency has no intention to pursue such regulations, says Greenwire.

Another amendment adopted by the committee would require President Obama to submit a report to the House and Senate Appropriations committees detailing all the federal agencies’ obligations and expenditures that pertain to climate change in fiscal 2008, fiscal 2009 and fiscal 2010, reports Greenwire.

The committee rejected a biofuels emissions amendment that would have blocked the EPA from measuring “indirect” emissions from land-use changes when calculating the carbon footprint of biofuels, and an amendment that would have increased funding for an EPA program to cut emissions from old diesel engines, according to Greenwire.

The EPA has a January 1 target to apply a final version of rules that require advanced biofuels to have greenhouse gas emissions that are 40 percent lower than gasoline, measured from creation through consumption, reports Reuters. U.S. biofuels can meet that requirement if overseas cropland changes are not considered, according to the article.

Environment America, an umbrella group for state-level groups, told Reuters that cropland expansion could lead to deforestation and “such a large source of pollution could take us backwards in the transition to a clean energy economy.”

Farm and ethanol trade groups also told Reuters that EPA’s proposal is speculation because estimates of land-use change vary widely. EPA has requested an independent review of the methods it would use to gauge the changes.

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