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Agriculture May Benefit From New EPA Rules On Emissions

June 5, 2014

YANKTON, S.D. – The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed new rules that would cut carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants by 30 percent by the year 2030.

The rules are part of the response of the Obama administration to climate change.

Johnathan Hladik, senior advocate for Energy and Policy at the Center for Rural Affairs, says farmers have been adjusting to climate changes for some time.

"The changing climate and increased carbon in the air is changing the way we farm, in some ways for the better but in most ways for the worst,” he explains. “I think stabilizing the climate, stabilizing the atmosphere and stabilizing the conditions in which we farm are all beneficial."

Hladik sees both wind and renewable energy as ways to reach that 30 percent carbon reduction targeted by the EPA

He says many farm practices already work to sequester carbon, and have a positive climate impact.

"A lot of steps farmers can take right now that help sequester some of the carbon from the air, whether it's cover crops, whether it's more perennials, whether it's just different crops that you are growing,” Hladik says. “We think now we are going to see a little bit more attention paid to these practices and perhaps some incentives to get farmers to implement these practices in a cost effective way."

Hladik says the new rules may allow farmers to look at their land productivity in a new light.

"We know this sort of investment conservation has sort of ebbed and flowed over the last two decades, and we think this is one of those big changes that could tip it back toward the flow scale, tip it back toward the way that allows us to really prioritize, recognize what's good and what's best for our land over the long term," he says.

Jerry Oster, Public News Service - SD