June 18, 2018

Climate Change; Trade- Cotton Case; and Animal Agriculture

Climate Change- Administrator Jackson’s Perspective

Reuters writer Timothy Gardner reported yesterday that, “The Environmental Protection Agency chief fought back on Monday against Senate attempts to challenge the agency’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, saying delaying action would be bad for the economy.

“President Barack Obama has long said the EPA would take steps to regulate greenhouse gases if Congress failed to pass climate legislation. The bill faces an uncertain future in the Senate amid opposition from fossil fuel-rich states.

“Senator Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from oil-producing Alaska, has introduced legislation to stop EPA from taking steps under the Clean Air Act on climate pollution from tailpipes and smokestacks.”

The article added that, “‘Supposedly these efforts have been put forward to protect jobs,’ Lisa Jackson told a meeting at the National Press Club. ‘In reality, they will have serious negative economic effects.’

“Jackson said industry needs clear signals from the U.S. government on greenhouse gas regulations. Otherwise investors would have ‘little incentive’ to put money into clean energy jobs. The country would fall further behind other countries in the race for clean energy, which would hurt the economy, she added.”

A transcript of Administrator Jackson’s comments from yesterday can be viewed here, while a video replay of her remarks is available here.

Lisa Lerer reported yesterday at Politico that, “The EPA is under fierce fire from more than a dozen lawmakers trying to block the new regulations, which would use the Clean Air Act to impose new emissions curbs on business.

“Last week, Sen. John Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) introduced legislation that would delay the new rules by two years. The regulations, he said, would ‘safeguard jobs, the coal industry and the entire economy.’”

Ms. Lerer added that, “Jackson said Congress should focus on drafting a climate bill, instead of suspending the rules.

“‘I really think the energy of the Senate on this issue would be wonderful if it would be put towards new legislation to do something,’ she said.

“The EPA has yet to see the climate proposal being drafted by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Jackson said. The three senators are trying to craft a bill that would impose industry-specific regulations, rather than the economywide cap preferred by the Obama administration.”

Ben Geman reported yesterday at The Hill Energy and Environment Blog that, “EPA had a cautious response (or non-response) last week when Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) introduced his bill that would block regulation of greenhouse gases from power plants and other industrial facilities for two years.

“But EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson reacted more boldly on Monday to the bill, which has also been introduced in the House.

“‘I am not in a position where I am going to stand here and support the idea of EPA not being able to use the Clean Air Act,’ Jackson told reporters after a speech at the National Press Club.”

Some of the more interesting comments from Administrator Jackson came in the Q and A portion of yesterday’s National Press Club appearance.

Admin. Jackson answered more specific questions about climate change issues in these two audio clips: clip one (MP3-2:17), clip two (MP3-3:20).

And with respect to agricultural issues, Admin. Jackson addressed the waiver request to increase the ethanol blend in gasoline from 10% to 15% in this clip (MP3-1:19).

She spoke about the recent Sixth Circuit opinion regarding pesticide applications and permitting issues in this audio clip (MP3-1:12). (Recall that last month, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review this Sixth Circuit case.)

Meanwhile, Amy Harder reported yesterday at the National Journal Online that, “EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson deflected questions today about when — or if — she would respond to a letter that Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, sent her Friday asking more questions about her agency’s plans to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

“‘I don’t have a date yet,’ Jackson told reporters after speaking at a National Press Club luncheon. ‘I haven’t had a chance to review it yet.’”

Ms. Harder added that, “Murkowski, the top Republican on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, was following up on the questions Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., and several other coal-state Democrats asked EPA in a letter last month. Specifically, Murkowski asked about the ‘tailoring’ rule: what types and sizes of stationary sources will be required to get Clean Air Act permits, and when the regulations would be rolled out.

“Rockefeller sent his letter on a Friday afternoon and got a response the following Monday evening. The discrepancy has not gone unnoticed by Murkowski’s office. ‘Senator Rockefeller was able to get a response in three days; I think Senator Murkowski would like the same treatment,’ Murkowski spokesman Robert Dillon said today.”

Robin Bravender of Greenwire reported yesterday at The New York Times Online that, “U.S. EPA has submitted the first piece of its suite of greenhouse gas rules to the White House for review, a signal that the agency is on schedule to finalize its first regulations to curb the heat-trapping emissions.

“EPA sent to the White House Office of Management and Budget last Thursday its final reconsideration of the George W. Bush administration’s ‘Johnson memo,’ a determination from former EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson about when the government must begin to regulate industrial facilities’ greenhouse gas emissions. That decision is seen as a critical policy to have in place before the agency issues its final greenhouse gas rule for tailpipe emissions.

“The agency is expected to finalize the auto standards — slated to come in tandem with the Transportation Department’s corporate average fuel efficiency (CAFE) standards — by March 31. Once greenhouse gases are ‘subject to regulation’ under the Clean Air Act, the agency will also be required to regulate stationary sources of the emissions.”

Jim Snyder reported yesterday at The Hill Online that, “The three senators writing compromise climate legislation are lobbying business groups in hopes of winning their support for the effort. One obstacle: the absence of an actual bill.

“Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) briefed a group of electric utility executives this week on a broad outline of the plan. Kerry and his cohorts, Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), have also reached out to Tom Donohue, the president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who has been among the harshest critics of a climate bill stalled in the Senate.”

Yesterday’s article added that, “Kerry, Graham and Lieberman appear to have revived climate discussions in the Senate by shifting focus from an ‘economy-wide’ cap-and-trade approach that has been the focus up to this point.

But energy lobbyists said they had yet to see any details of the legislation, raising skepticism the three are near a solution.”

Trade- Cotton Case

Reuters writer Raymond Colitt reported yesterday that, “Brazil detailed on Monday its planned retaliation against the United States over U.S. cotton subsidies but said Washington still had a chance to settle the trade dispute through negotiations.

“The Brazilian government published on Monday a list of U.S. goods subject to import tariffs that will go into effect in 30 days, unless the governments can reach a last-minute accord.”

The article noted that, “U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke may address the matter when he visits Brazil on Tuesday, although key U.S. lawmakers said they’d been assured Locke was not carrying a proposal to resolve the long-running trade spat.

“‘We cannot negotiate with a partner that is unwilling to voice what it wants,’ Senators Blanche Linclon and Saxby Chambliss, the top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee, said in a statement.

“The U.S. government is willing to strike a deal, but is ‘waiting for Brazil to start the process,’ the lawmakers said.”

The Reuters article indicated that, “The U.S. National Cotton Council said the move imposed unwarranted harm on Brazilian and American interests in times of economic hardship and added the cost of U.S. cotton price-related programs were down sharply.

“The estimated annual impact of the retaliation is $591 million, Brazil’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

“Brazil is expected to publish by March 23 a separate list worth an additional $238 million in annual cross-retaliation penalties. That list would be subject to public hearings for 20 days and focus on intellectual property rights and services, ministry officials said.”

A statement on this development yesterday from the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office indicated that, “‘We are disappointed to learn that Brazil’s authorities have decided to proceed with countermeasures against U.S. trade in the WTO Cotton dispute,’ said spokeswoman Nefeterius McPherson. ‘USTR is working to reach a solution to the issues in this dispute without Brazil resorting to countermeasures and we continue to prefer a negotiated solution.’”

Dow Jones writer Gerald Jeffris reported yesterday that, “‘The Brazilian government doesn’t believe that trade retaliation is the most appropriate means to achieve fairer international commerce,’ said Brazilian Foreign Trade Secretary Lytha Spindola. ‘But after eight years of litigation, and in the absence of more concrete options for resolving the dispute, all that’s left for Brazil is to make good on its rights as authorized by the WTO, if even only to safeguard the credibility of the system of conflict resolution.’

“The list included mostly nonessential consumer products such as cosmetics and electronic devices. It also included some pharmaceuticals, hospital products, and food items, as well as some bigger ticket imports such as automobiles.”

Bloomberg writers Iuri Dantas and Mark Drajem reported yesterday that, “Brazil will raise tariffs on 102 U.S. exports, including wheat, cars, boats and chewing gum, and break patents worth $238 million in a bid to force the U.S. to end subsidies to cotton producers.

“Acting on a World Trade Organization ruling, Brazil will impose levies of 14 percent to 100 percent, according to a list published in the government’s Official Gazette. The sanctions, which take effect in 30 days, represent $591 million in trade with wheat goods the largest target, Carlos Marcio Cosendey, head of Foreign Ministry’s economic department told reporters.”

In other trade news, Ian Swanson reported yesterday at The Hill Online that, “Rep. Sandy Levin is known as a trade critic, but his record on the issue is more complicated.

“Levin (D-Mich.), who was named interim chairman of the Ways and Means Committee after Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) stepped down under an ethics investigation, has been a leader in the Democratic Caucus on trade for years.

“He’s expressed skepticism of pending agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea that were negotiated by the Bush administration, leading some to think those deals are unlikely to be dislodged.”

The article noted that, “But in 2000, Levin voted for granting China more favorable trade terms, which ushered that country into the global trading system and the World Trade Organization.”

Mr. Swanson pointed out that, “More recently, Levin helped negotiate changes to a trade deal with Peru that allowed it to win congressional approval in 2007.

Some business lobbyists who’ve been hoping for action on the Bush administration’s leftover trade agenda suggest things aren’t likely to worsen for them with Levin at the helm of the committee instead of Rangel.

Others are hopeful that Levin could deliver for them.”

And David M. Dickson reported in today’s Washington Times that, “It’s the trade war that wasn’t.

Fears that the deep global recession would fuel protectionist measures have not been borne out, a major survey found.

“Commissioned by the Group of 20 leading industrial powers, the study found that the United States and its major trading partners have cut back sharply on trade-killing restrictions since September, despite strong political pressures at home.”

Today’s article explained that, “The survey could mean good news for a global economy that is gathering new steam, with fewer new trade barriers and tariffs to dismantle as the major trading powers struggle to complete the stalled Doha trade round — a global negotiation now in its ninth year.

“The report was released Monday by the World Trade Organization (WTO), which coordinated with analysts from the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development and the United Nations.”

Animal Agriculture

In his opinion item from Sunday, New York Times Columnist Nicholas D. Kristof stated that, “Until three months ago, Thomas M. Dukes was a vigorous, healthy executive at a California plastics company. Then, over the course of a few days in December as he was planning his Christmas shopping, E. coli bacteria ravaged his body and tore his life apart.

“Mr. Dukes is a reminder that as long as we’re examining our health care system, we need to scrutinize more than insurance companies. We also need to curb the way modern agribusiness madly overuses antibiotics, leaving them ineffective for sick humans.”

Mr. Kristof added that, “Routine use of antibiotics to raise livestock is widely seen as a major reason for the rise of superbugs. But Congress and the Obama administration have refused to curb agriculture’s addiction to antibiotics, apparently because of the power of the agribusiness lobby.”

Rod Smith reported recently at FeedStuffs Online that, “Resistance, [Dr. W. Ron DeHaven, executive vice president and chief executive officer of the American Veterinary Medical Assn. (AVMA)] said in remarks to the delegates to the board of directors of the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), occurs when a microorganism develops a survival rate to antimicrobials. That is not occurring in U.S. animal agriculture, he stated.

“DeHaven noted that the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of antibiotics in animals to achieve growth promotion and to prevent, control and treat disease.”

The article added that, “He then laid out several facts:

(1) There is no evidence that antibiotic use in animals causes antibiotic resistance or infections in humans;

(2) There is no evidence that eliminating the use of antibiotics in animals will prevent antibiotic resistance;

(3) The advantages of antibiotics include animal welfare — disease prevention, control and treatment — food safety — healthier animals mean safer food — and efficiency and growth, and

(4) The disadvantage is that ‘at some level’ resistance may occur.”

Mr. Smith explained that, “There are choices, DeHaven said. One is to use lower antibiotic doses in more animals to prevent or higher doses in fewer animals to treat, the latter of which ‘may be the stronger driver’ in creating resistance.

“Another is to discontinue use until it can be determined if use leads to resistance or to continue use until it can be determined that mitigating measures are needed to reduce resistance risk. This is more preferable for animal welfare and food safety purposes.

DeHaven said AVMA supports the judicious use of antibiotics in animals and greater veterinarian involvement in the use of antibiotics in animals and subscribes to a position that limitations in use be based on scientific research and risk assessment.”

Meanwhile, Ken Anderson reported on Friday at Brownfield that, “It looks like the issue of animal rights has reached the U.S. Congress.

“According to, a bill backed by the Humane Society of the United States [H.R. 4733] has been introduced by two House members from California [U.S. Reps. Diane Watson, D-Calif., and Elton Gallegly, R-Calif.] It would set rules around confinement of animals used to produce food purchased by the federal government.

“HSUS praised the proposal and urged Congress to act swiftly to pass the bill. In a news release, HSUS said the bill ‘simply requires that any food purchased for federal programs comes from animals raised with enough room to stand up, lie down, turn around and stretch their limbs.’”

And Deborah Ball reported in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal that, “Swiss voters overwhelmingly rejected a referendum that would have compelled all cantons to hire lawyers to defend the rights of animals, a setback to animal-rights organizations.

“According to preliminary results, 71% of Swiss voters rejected the proposal on Sunday, with the rest voting in favor of the measure.

“The referendum was hotly debated in a country that has some of the toughest animal-welfare laws in the world. If it had passed, each of the country’s 26 cantons would have had to hire official animal lawyers—a sort of public defender—to represent pets, farm animals and wildlife in court.”

Keith Good

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