The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a finding
today that greenhouse gases (GHGs) threaten public health and welfare of the American people.
EPA says the science overwhelmingly shows GHG concentrations are at unprecedented levels due to human activity. The endangerment findings cover six GHGs: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perflurorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride.
What that means to dairy producers remains to be seen. In October, EPA delayed reporting requirements for 12 months for farms that emit more than 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. Generally, dairy farms with 3,200 mature cows reach that threshold. "Originally it was to go into effect January 1, 2010 with the first annual report due by March 31, 2011. This has all been delayed one year," says Jonkers.
"It is possible the EPA could go into some type of mitigation effort,” says Jamie Jonkers, VP of scientific and regulatory affairs for the National Milk Producers Federation. "But at this point, EPA hasn't been clear as to which industries it will target. It's really more wait and see at this point.”
But Jonkers says the findings could spur Congress to act on so-called "cap and trade” legislation which has been stalled due to the health reform debate.