Emissions reporting stayed
Cheyenne – Environmental groups pushing for more information on livestock operations recently received a boost when a Washington, DC circuit court vacated a decision and forcing producers with more than 200 head of livestock to report emissions.
Allison Cooke, with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s (NCBA) government affairs committee, told ranchers during the Range Beef Cow Symposium that nothing good will come from this decision.
The ruling stems from an agricultural exemption enacted in 2008 under the Obama administration. If the circuit court ruling is upheld, producers with more than 200 head of livestock would be required to report emissions to the National Response Center (NRC) under the Coast Guard.
“When this ruling came down, NRC was caught completely off guard and didn’t know how to tell us to do the reporting,” Cooke said.
“Environmental groups are always looking for ways to get access to our information and do as much harm with it as possible,” she explained. “Once we submit emissions information to NRC, it goes public.”
Purpose of NRC
The primary purpose of the NRC is tedious reporting of chemical explosions and issues with pollutants emitting into the air that the public needs to know about so they can prepare for any impacts safely, she said. Only seven people work in the NRC office, so they don’t have the manpower or capability to handle the number of reports livestock producers would have to submit, Cooke commented.
“They have told us they only want the reports on the larger operations that they are currently receiving,” she explains.
“If they get a report something is going on at X farm and they show up and there is nothing going on, it is a waste of their time and resources,” she added. “When we are talking about rural America, small farms and small towns, we can’t use their resources like that.”
“In my mind, this is also a national security issue,” Cooke continued. “If there was a chemical explosion at a plant that the public needed to know about and the Coast Guard couldn’t get to it because their e-mail or phone system is flooded with livestock reports, that should be a concern to the general public.”
Fortunately, the courts have come back and issued a stay until Jan. 22, 2018 so they can go back and take a look at it, Cooke told producers.
In the meantime, NCBA and other groups are collecting information and support.
“There is support in Congress to draft legislation, so environmental groups can’t continue to push this issue until someone with three cows in their backyard has to report,” Cooke said. “That is the end goal for environmental groups, because they want information on our livestock operations.”
“There is language in the appropriations bill to address this issue, but we have to get the budget passed first,” she explained.
Gayle Smith is a correspondent for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to email@example.com.