Sen. Wicker: Climate Action Plan Will Hurt Farmers, Foresters, Fishermen

Melanie Arter | June 4, 2014 | 12:27pm EDT
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This July 5, 2005 file photo shows pine trees in the White River National Forest near Frisco, Colo. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski, File)

( – Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) said Tuesday that the Obama administration’s climate action plan, announced Monday by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, will have “little effect on the climate,” but will negatively affect farmers, foresters, and fishermen.

“Yesterday as part of the president’s climate action plan, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy announced a new set of rules to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants. These regulations would have little effect on the climate, but the rules would have a negative effect on the livelihood of all energy users including farmers, foresters, and fishermen, who are the focus of today’s hearing,” Wicker said at a Senate subcommittee hearing on the impact of climate change on wildlife and agriculture.

As previously reported, McCarthy said when the new regulations take effect by 2030, “electricity bills will be 8 percent cheaper.”

But according to Wicker, “costly regulations mean that farmers who irrigate their crops by pump would face higher utility bills.”

In addition, “foresters would pay more for electricity to turn their timber into building materials and paper – products that are essential to our economy.”

“These industries already face a myriad of challenges in a difficult economic environment, but at what cost are we going to hurt these economic sectors in the pursuit of aggressive but dubious climate regulations?” Wicker asked.

“The costs to these industries are sure to go up,” he said.

“Farmers are said to be on the front line of climate change, because they are most likely to be affected by altering weather patterns,” Wicker said. However, “Farmers have been managing their crops effectively and adapting to variable climate conditions for generations and generations. This is nothing new.”

“Unfortunately, this generation will now have to cope with higher electricity costs, because of questionable climate regulations. For farmers who properly manage their land, a changing climate is not the problem, but burdensome regulations that increase the cost of farm production are,” he said.

Furthermore, “carbon dioxide is require for photosynthesis - the process by which these forests use sunlight to grow,” Wicker said. “Plants tend to grow better under conditions of higher CO2 levels. Scientists have dubbed this effect CO2 fertilization.”

Forestry in Wicker’s home state of Mississippi is a $14 billion industry that supports over 63,000 full- and part-time jobs. Forests cover more than 60 percent of the state, he said, and “healthy forests support industry that employs 25 percent of Mississippi’s manufacturing work force.”

“Given the current depressed market for forestry goods, higher prices for electricity would only worsen industry problems for foresters who properly manage their trees,” Wicker said. “A changing climate is not the problem, but onerous regulations that increase the cost of forestry production are.”

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