Extravagant spending (again) provides few benefits in climate change push

BY Garrett Hawkins, Missouri Farm Bureau
Posted 9/21/22

A few months ago, I wrote about the ridiculous overreach of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which is rolling out a plan to force companies to collect and publish information about their …

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Extravagant spending (again) provides few benefits in climate change push

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A few months ago, I wrote about the ridiculous overreach of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which is rolling out a plan to force companies to collect and publish information about their “climate-related risks.” The new rule could force farmers and ranchers to keep track of every bit of carbon used to produce anything they grow or raise — an impossible task. 

Since then, the Biden administration and its friends in Congress have ratcheted up their climate efforts even more. The Inflation Reduction Act (“IRA”), pulled together at the last minute and passed by the narrowest of margins in a party-line vote by both the House and Senate, allocates $369 billion to fighting global warming.  

Bjorn Lomborg, president of the Copenhagen Consensus, plugged the IRA’s plan into the U.N.’s climate model. He found that the IRA will reduce global temperatures in the year 2100 by 0.0009 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s less than one one-thousandth of a degree in the next 78 years. He also calculated that the bill’s massive new programs will reduce ocean levels in the year 2100 by between 0.006 and 0.08 inches. So, the projected best-case scenario is that it would reduce sea levels by less than one-tenth of an inch. 

The IRA will make essentially zero difference to our climate while spending hundreds of billions of dollars. But one thing it is certain to do is to increase government control. Congressional Democrats added language to statutorily define carbon dioxide as an “air pollutant” under the Clean Air Act. This authorization could provide a legal basis for the EPA to expand control over carbon emissions. 

The IRA also allocated millions of dollars to the EPA to investigate companies to ensure they are meeting emissions targets. The EPA will also work to “enhance standardization and transparency of corporate climate action commitments and plans.” Presumably, this means EPA will push companies to all get on board with a single nationwide framework.  The Biden administration is serious about its “all of government” approach to global warming.  

America can’t afford to spend billions of dollars on programs that will make no difference. We also don’t need to give the government more power to tell us what to do on our own farms and ranches. U.S. agriculture already leads the world in developing environmentally friendly practices. Today, we take better care of each acre by requiring less fertilizer, water and pest control to create even more food, fuel and fiber than ever before. 

If it were not for those efforts, farmers would need almost 100 million more acres than they did in 1990 to harvest today’s corn, cotton, rice, soybeans, and wheat crops. Cattle and other grazing animals take up just a small percentage of total acreage, yet they produce copious amounts of milk and other proteins for consumption. Today, more than 140 million acres of U.S. farmland are used for conservation efforts and wildlife habitat. This is equal to the land area of California and New York combined.  

Farmers and ranchers are part of the solution, not part of the problem. Policymakers need to encourage them to continue implementing common-sense conservation practices and taking better care of their land and resources each year. The last thing they need is another government program jamming a one-size-fits-all policy onto every farm and ranch.

(Garrett Hawkins is a farmer from Appleton City and serves as president of Missouri Farm Bureau, the state’s largest and most effective farm organization with a presence in every county throughout the state).

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