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EPA guidance on reporting air emissions of hazardous substances from animal waste

Farm Forum | Posted on November 1, 2017

EPA released guidance to assist farmers in reporting air releases of hazardous substances from animal waste at farms. EPA is making this information available to provide time for farmers to review and prepare for the reporting deadline, currently set for November 15, 2017. “EPA is working diligently to address undue regulatory burden on American farmers,” said Administrator Scott Pruitt. “While we continue to examine our options for reporting requirements for emissions from animal waste, EPA’s guidance is designed to help farmers comply with the current requirements.” On December 18, 2008, EPA published a final rule that exempted farms from reporting air releases of hazardous substances from animal waste. On April 11, 2017, the DC Circuit Court vacated this final rule. In response to a request from EPA, the DC Circuit Court extended the date by which farms must begin reporting these releases to November 15, 2017. Unless the court further delays this date, all farms (including those previously exempted) that have releases of hazardous substances to air from animal wastes equal to or greater than the reportable quantities for those hazardous substances within any 24-hour period must provide notification of such releases.


Taxation for antibiotic use?

American Society of Animal Science | Posted on November 1, 2017

The authors summarized three main points or avenues to reduce the antimicrobials in food animals, which could result in a 9% to 80% reduction in antimicrobial use by 2030. First, they discuss regulations that would put a cap of 50 mg of antimicrobials per PCU per year, suggesting a 64% reduction in antimicrobial use from today’s available data. Second, they discuss limiting meat consumption worldwide to 40 g/day, suggesting a reduction in antimicrobial use of 66% use. Third, they discuss a user fee or tax on current veterinary antimicrobials, suggesting a 31% reduction in antimicrobial use.  Unfortunately, the authors did not discuss the fact that very limited evidence exists to support a claim that growing incidence of AMR in humans is due to livestock producers using antibiotics, even though they are a potential contributor to the problem. During the discussion of global trends, antimicrobial use varied greatly between countries or regions. They cite policy initiatives to aid in reducing antimicrobial use in the EU, but there is unharnessed use in China because of lack of policy. However, they did not dig deeper into their research to better understand the disease challenges in different regions when compared to antimicrobial usage. Furthermore, the authors have not considered how sufficient plant-based food would be produced to feed people adequately if animal units are reduced. Similarly, by-products from sustainable fuel initiatives and the food industry would become waste products rather than affordable and sustainable feedstuffs, as they are in today's livestock sector. Also, as obesity increases, high-protein diets utilizing lean meats have become great alternatives for individuals managing this health concern.


Top Trump official says U.S. isn’t offering ‘anything’ to Canada in exchange for NAFTA demands

Toronto Star | Posted on October 27, 2017

The Trump administration is demanding NAFTA concessions from Canada and Mexico but not offering “anything” in exchange, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on Wednesday. Ross’s remarkable public statement corroborates the complaints of Canadian and Mexican officials, who have accused the U.S. of taking an unusually and unreasonably hard line in the talks to renegotiate the North American free trade pact.U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence said in August that the negotiation would be a “win-win-win” for all three countries, and Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has repeated that this is what Canada is seeking. Ross, however, suggested the U.S. was pushing for something different.“We’re trying to do a difficult thing. We’re asking two countries to give up some privileges that they have enjoyed for 22 years. And we’re not in a position to offer anything in return,” he said on CNBC. “So that’s a tough sell. And I don’t know that we’ll get every single thing we want. The question is, will we get enough to make it worthwhile.”


Senators from refinery states request Trump meeting on biofuels

Reuters | Posted on October 27, 2017

Nine U.S. senators from states that have oil refineries sent a letter to President Donald Trump on Thursday urging changes to the country’s biofuels policy and asking for a meeting to discuss the issue. The letter reflects growing tensions between refiners that oppose the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard - a law requiring them to blend increasing amounts of ethanol into the nation’s fuel each year - and the Midwest corn lobby that supports it.The Trump administration bowed to rising pressure from Midwest lawmakers last week, assuring them in letters and phone calls that it would ditch proposals, supported by the refining industry, to overhaul the biofuels policy.The senators said that decision could cost jobs.“If your administration does not make adjustments or reforms on matters related to the Renewable Fuel Standard, it will result in a loss of jobs around the country, particularly in our states,” according to the letter, which was signed by Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe, Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey and six others.


Trump declares opioid crisis a 'health emergency' but requests no funds

The New York Times | Posted on October 27, 2017

President Trump on Thursday directed the Department of Health and Human Services to declare the opioid crisis a public health emergency, taking long-anticipated action to address a rapidly escalating epidemic of drug use.But even as he vowed to alleviate the scourge of drug addiction and abuse that has swept the country — a priority that resonated strongly with the working-class voters who supported his presidential campaign — Mr. Trump fell short of fulfilling his promise in August to declare “a national emergency” on opioids, which would have prompted the rapid allocation of federal funding to address the issue.His directive does not on its own release any additional funds to deal with a drug crisis that claimed more than 59,000 lives in 2016, and the president did not request any, although his aides said he would soon do so. And he made little mention of the need for the rapid and costly expansion of medical treatment that public health specialists, including some in his own administration, argue is crucial to addressing the epidemic. Mr. Trump said his plan would include a requirement that federally employed prescribers be trained in safe practices for opioid prescriptions, and a new federal initiative to develop nonaddictive painkillers, as well as intensified efforts to block shipments of fentanyl, a cheap and extremely potent synthetic opioid manufactured in China, into the United States.He also said he would act to suspend a rule that currently prevents Medicaid from funding many drug rehabilitation facilities.


The Interior Department Scrubs Climate Change From Its Strategic Plan

The Nation | Posted on October 26, 2017

A leaked draft of a five-year plan reveals how the DOI will prioritize “energy dominance” over conservation. In the next five years, millions of acres of America’s public lands and waters, including some national monuments and relatively pristine coastal regions, could be auctioned off for oil and gas development, with little thought for environmental consequences.  The Department of the Interior’s strategic vision states that the DOI is committed to achieving “American energy dominance” through the exploitation of “vast amounts” of untapped energy reserves on public lands. Alarmingly, the policy blueprint—a 50-page document—does not once mention climate change or climate science. 


Hispanic ranchers dealt blow in lengthy battle over grazing

Santa Fe New Mexican | Posted on October 26, 2017

A group of Hispanic ranchers has been dealt a blow in their yearslong feud with the federal government over grazing rights on land in New Mexico that has been used by their families for centuries.Attorneys for the ranchers argued that the U.S. Forest Service violated the law when deciding to limit grazing on historic land grants even though the government has recognized that the descendants of Spanish colonists have a unique relationship with the land.The ranchers claimed the agency failed to consider social and economic effects that would result from limiting grazing in a region where poverty and dependence on the land for subsistence is high.In a recent ruling, U.S. District James Browning dismissed remaining counts against the government, finding that the National Environmental Policy Act does not require the Forest Service to consider social and economic effects that are a direct result of an agency’s action.The law narrowly centers on effects to the physical environment, the judge ruled. The ranchers say they are disappointed and that the Forest Service had a responsibility to consider a history in which they claim the property rights of Hispanics have been ignored and an institutional bias has been allowed to persist.


California conflagration prompts more calls for wildfire funding fix

Daily Yonder | Posted on October 26, 2017

If Congress spent more money to prevent fires, it wouldn’t have to spend so much to fight them. Advocates and politicians from both parties agree. But that doesn’t appear to result in any action. We’ve grown accustomed to disagreement creating political impasse. But is political division so bad that there’s no progress even when folks agree on a solution? That’s the question Western conservation groups are asking as they push Congress to reform the way the government allocates funding to fight wildfires. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Dylan Kruse of Sustainable Northwest. “We have more than 100 legislators from both parties in agreement. We have more than 200 organizations calling for the same legislative package. Everybody knows we need to fix this problem. And still, while disaster funding is moving, once again the chance to solve the problem is lost.”Kruse’s frustration, along with a chorus of other rural voices in the West, is about how the federal government spends more and more money fighting catastrophic wildfires while reducing money from programs that could keep the fires from getting out of hand in the first place.A further complication is that wildfires are not treated like other disasters, such as hurricanes and flooding, where Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funding can support emergency response and re-building.


EPA scrubs a climate website of ‘climate change’

The New York Times | Posted on October 25, 2017

The Environmental Protection Agency has removed dozens of online resources dedicated to helping local governments address climate change, part of an apparent effort by the agency to play down the threat of global warming. A new analysis made public on Friday found that an E.P.A. website has been scrubbed of scores of links to materials to help local officials prepare for a world of rising temperatures and more severe storms.The site, previously the E.P.A.’s “Climate and Energy Resources for State, Local and Tribal Governments” has been renamed “Energy Resources for State, Local and Tribal Governments.” About 15 mentions of the words “climate change” have been removed from the main page alone, the study found.Among the now-missing pages are those detailing the risks of climate change and the different approaches states are taking to curb emissions. Also edited out were examples of statewide plans to adapt to weather extremes.An E.P.A. spokesman said the original pages have been archived and remain available by searching through the agency’s web archive, a link to which is at the top of its energy resources page.


Lawmakers Urge Consistent Approach to Federal Regulation of Biotechnology

DTN | Posted on October 25, 2017

In a letter to three federal agency heads on Tuesday, a group of 79 bipartisan members of the United States House of Representatives expressed concern about the direction being taken to regulate agriculture biotechnology. In particular, in the letter to Scott Pruitt, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and Scott Gotlieb, commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the lawmakers pointed to two regulations currently being re-drafted.


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