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Agriculture Today

Climate change regulation: scarier than climate change?

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Guest Editorial
July 17, 2013 | 4,636 views | Post a comment

By Gene Hall

Only minutes after President Obama announced his new climate change regulatory plan, I was swamped with calls from the media asking for comment. Not knowing much about it then, I said that farmers and ranchers would examine the legislation for clues about the future and continue seeking ways to reduce carbon pollution.

We now know the plan, implemented almost entirely by executive order, might also be called “choke the life of whatever feeble economic recovery we’ve managed so far.” I’m ready to say I don’t like much about it at all.

There’s a lot of code in there for unleashing enthusiastic federal regulators on job creators and workers. The net result follows like night after day. There will be less job creation and fewer workers.

Reporters often ask me leading questions that suggest farmers would benefit from draconian climate change regulation. It’s frankly hard to see how with a regulatory scheme that penalizes farmers for starting a tractor. Chemical and genetic breakthroughs have dramatically reduced trips across the fields and application of fossil fuel-based inputs. Still, no one knows yet how to grow a crop without driving a few times over the land. Farmers might well support reducing carbon pollution -- if the methods are incentive- and market-based.

What about the drought, you say? Well, a quick look back through history will demonstrate that drought is not a 20th- and 21st-century phenomenon. The current one is troublesome, but others in less carbon emitting times were even worse. All this comes up at a time when the United States has reduced its carbon emissions to early 1990s levels. Other countries are spooling up new coal-fired generators. Oil from the Keystone Pipeline will be burned in Asia if not here.

This administration plans to punish United States energy and food producers even more. I’m not seeing how unilateral surrender of our own economic fortune does any good whatsoever in the climate change grand scheme of things.

I’m not a “denier,” but I am a “skeptic” on the whole global warming thing. From where I sit, climate change regulation is much more terrifying than climate change itself.

Gene Hall is a public relations director with the Texas Farm Bureau.

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