The EPA and flawed science

Monday, February 22, 2010

Like you, I'm concerned our nation relies on foreign sources of energy. The longer we continue to depend on other countries for the energy which drives our economy, the greater the likelihood of again facing sky-high prices.

This is why I am working to develop oil and natural gas exploration here in the United States as well as expand research into renewable biofuels.

Unfortunately, government bureaucrats in Washington are hamstringing efforts to encourage new avenues of energy production by putting up roadblocks based on questionable science.

The EPA recently announced regulations on the energy we use which could prove devastating for production agriculture. The regulations concern indirect land use, a flawed methodology which holds that agriculture production results in carbon emissions from land tillage elsewhere in the world. I am concerned these provisions fail to use science-based standards and are instead based on wrongful assumptions between U.S. agriculture production and deforestation or conversion of agricultural land abroad.

There is no widely accepted method or model for calculating changes in land use and such an ambiguous concept should not be allowed to undermine our national priorities by making U.S. energy policy dependent on international decisions.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has tremendous power and authority, and the decisions it makes regarding both crop and livestock production agriculture will have a major impact on our rural economy for years to come. It is imperative any regulations enacted by the EPA be guided by sound science, transparent analysis, and economic modeling which stands up to scrutiny.

It is simply not practical to draw broad conclusions across a large geographic region concerning the effects of particular land use changes on resulting greenhouse gas emissions.

Different greenhouse gas emissions are caused by variations in soil, local climate, and various farming practices. To think we can credibly measure the impact of international indirect land use is completely unrealistic. It is ridiculous for practices in areas as far away as Southeast Asia or Brazil to determine policies which could not only reduce our dependence on foreign oil, but also very well impact our agriculture industries for generations.

We cannot allow a misguided edict from the EPA to derail potential renewable energy independence -- especially at a time in which the industry can have such an important role in providing needed jobs as well as reliable sources of energy. If our energy policy is going to be prepared for the future, renewable fuels need to be an important part of an "all-of-the-above" energy policy which makes use of all forms of American energy.

We can structure our public policy to encourage growth while not interfering with the marketplace. As a member of both the House Natural Resources and House Agriculture Committees, I understand the impact such regulations can have on all aspects of our ag industry. Nebraska's livestock and production agriculture industries are integral important to our state and they deserve policies which bring about stability.

Nebraska has more than 45 million acres of farm- and ranch-land, not to mention thousands and thousands of ag-related jobs. With this in mind, I will work to ensure U.S. agriculture policy always takes a balanced approach and is not based on unreliable data and decisions made by other countries.

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