Environmental Issues

ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES COMMITTEE

Howdy Lawlar, Chairman

Craig Kemmet, Vice Chairman

 

21-Resolution passed in 2021

20-Resolution passed in 2020

19-Resolution passed in 2019

 

CLEAN AIR - 21 (EI)

     WHEREAS, air quality is essential to the health and well-being of the nation; and

     WHEREAS, the Environmental Protec­tion Agency rule that addresses the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for particulates does not distinguish combustion particulates, which have been shown to cause adverse health effects, from coarse particulates from cattle operations; and

     WHEREAS, this rule applies a regulatory standard to agriculture, while lacking the scientific evidence to support such a standard, and results in a cost-prohibi­tive regulation for agriculturists to comply with.

     THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, the NDSA supports a legislative effort or com­panion rules that would give agriculture an exclusion from the coarse particulate matter standards.

 

CLIMATE CHANGE - 21 (EI)

     WHEREAS, cattle producers are stewards of all natural resources, including the land, water, air and livestock; and

     WHEREAS, science has proven that cattle grazing improves soil health and carbon storage and helps mitigate the risk of catastrophic wildfires; and

     WHEREAS, cattle recycle carbon dioxide as part of the natural carbon cycle and upcycle a diet that is 90 percent inedible to humans into nutritious protein; and

     WHEREAS, cattle methane accounts for only 2 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions; and

     WHEREAS, U.S. beef producers’ greenhouse gas emissions are 10 to 50 percent lower than that of their global peers, and they have reduced emissions by 30 percent from 1975 to 2017; and

     WHEREAS, legislation or regulations that do not account for the U.S. beef industry’s positive contributions to the environment could put producers at a significant and unjustified disadvantage in comparison to producers in other countries and result in large energy-cost increases for those in agriculture.

     THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, the NDSA works to educate lawmakers and the public alike that cattle grazing is a climate solution, not a detriment, and pushes back on non-science-based legislation or regulations that do not take this into account and that impose unnecessary and unrealistic standards on the livestock industry.

 

NOXIOUS WEEDS - 21 (EI)

     WHEREAS, noxious weeds are a growing problem in North Dakota, consuming more and more of the state’s precious rangelands; and

     WHEREAS, species such as Palmer amaranth have been discovered recently across North Dakota and have far greater destructive tendencies and herbicide resistance than other prohibited noxious weeds already established here; and

     WHEREAS, proper weed control is going to require greater surveillance and vigilance by landowners and others in order to be effective.

     THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, the NDSA urges lawmakers and regulators to give noxious weed control high priority and to fund related control programs and efforts at a level commensurate with the problem.

 

WATER APPROPRIATION - 21 (EI)

     WHEREAS, recreational needs are growing at a rapid pace, creating more demand on the waters of the state; and

     WHEREAS, this increased pressure on water resources may lead to attempts to change the priority ranking for water allocation.

     THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, the NDSA opposes any attempt to diminish agriculture’s and livestock’s priority ranking for the waters of the state under the jurisdiction of the Department of Water Resources.

 

WATERS OF THE UNITED STATES - 21 (EI)

     WHEREAS, there have been several legislative and regulatory attempts to expand the definition of the “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) in reference to the Clean Water Act of 1972 over recent years; and

     WHEREAS, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a problematic WOTUS rule in 2015 that exceeded statutory authority, imposed burdensome regulations on farmers and ranchers and allowed for third-party litigation and citizen lawsuits that would have incentivized activists and was finalized in violation of mandatory procedural requirements; and

     WHEREAS, the NDSA was successful in pushing back on that rule, which ignored private water stewardship practices, undermined state and local authority and subjected producers to costly and time-consumptive permits; and

     WHEREAS, the replacement Navigable Waters Protection Rule addressed many of the livestock industry’s concerns, with considerable improvements made by including prior converted cropland, ditch, stock pond and other artificial pond exclusions and revamping the ephemeral and adjacent wetlands references; and

     WHEREAS, a recent court ruling remanded and vacated the Navigable Waters Protection Rule and the Administration reopened a comment period on the topic.

     THEREFORE BE IT RE­SOLVED, the NDSA works with EPA, the Corps and other decision-makers to ensure that any new definition of WOTUS protects water quality, preserves the improvements achieved in the more recent rule, promotes eco­nomic growth, minimizes regulation and re­spects private property rights and the roles of Congress and the states under the U.S. Con­stitution.

 

CLEAN WATER - 20 (EI)

     WHEREAS, the NDSA believes that clean water is essential to the health and well-being of the nation; and

      WHEREAS, local, state and federal regu­lations for concentrated animal feeding opera­tions (CAFOs) and animal feeding operations (AFOs) may force unnecessary and costly re­strictions on animal agriculture; and

     WHEREAS, voluntary, incentive-based conservation is a proven, effective method.

     THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, the NDSA supports a voluntary, incentive-based and locally controlled approach to clean wa­ter.

 

ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT RISK ASSESSMENTS - 20 (EI)

     WHEREAS, activist groups have targeted agricultural pesticides and rodenticides by filing lawsuits and claiming a breech in risk assessment requirements.

     THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, the NDSA supports a federal legislative solution that clearly establishes the primacy of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenti­cide Act for pesticide regulation in the United States and an amendment to the Endangered Species Act to exempt the Environmental Pro­tection Agency’s pesticide reviews from Sec­tion 7 of the act if those reviews are conducted under a system agreed upon by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service.

 

LIFE-CYCLE ANALYSIS - 20 (EI)

     WHEREAS, claims about the environmen­tal impacts of beef production are prominent in both public and policy discussions; and

     WHEREAS, these claims have the poten­tial to negatively affect consumer demand for beef and to foster burdensome regulations that negatively affect the profitability of beef pro­duction; and

   WHEREAS, claims that the U.S. beef in­dustry is environmentally harmful are based on misinformation and unsupported rhetoric, instead of sound science.

     THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, the NDSA supports continued research on the life-cycle analysis of U.S. beef production.

 

PREDATOR CONTROL - 20 (EI)

     WHEREAS, predator populations are in­creasing very rapidly, creating problems in the livestock industry and wildlife populations.

    THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, the NDSA supports the reclassification of moun­tain lions and coyotes from furbearer to pred­ator.

     THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RE­SOLVED, the NDSA supports continued state and federal funding for predator control.

 

SPECIES RECOVERY - 20 (EI)

     WHEREAS, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) does not provide proper incentives for species recovery and, in many instances, limits and/or intrudes on the property rights of private landowners for the purpose of species habitat preservation; and

     WHEREAS, these limitations and intru­sions on the free use of private property often restrict economic use of land and, in some cas­es, diminish property value; and

     WHEREAS, non-regulatory solutions, based on a proactive species conservation partnership, should be found to ease the bur­den of the ESA on public and private land ranchers; and

     WHEREAS, the NDSA believes that re­covery using voluntary incentives and, ul­timately, delisting of species covered by the ESA should be the highest priority of the ESA.

     THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, the NDSA promotes recovery as an avenue of re­form to the ESA, and that federal funding for the ESA should be prioritized to reflect this priority.

     THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RE­SOLVED, the NDSA insists that scientific data be presented and/or studies be conducted that conclusively demonstrate what the spe­cies’ historic range was and how the demo­graphic of that present-day historic range has changed and if it is still suitable for the species in question.

     THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RE­SOLVED, the NDSA urges federal agencies to work with states and landowner stakeholders in developing realistic goals for species.

 

STATE WATER RIGHTS - 20 (EI)

     WHEREAS, the federal government, through the Reed Amendment in 1993, at­tempted to override North Dakota state water laws, as well as that of several other western states.

     THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, the NDSA urges our Congressional delegation and governor to vigorously oppose any future attempts by the federal government to dimin­ish North Dakota’s right to allocate state water rights.

     THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RE­SOLVED, the NDSA opposes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers attempting to take control over the right to the natural flows that belong with the State of North Dakota.

 

M-44 SODIUM CYANIDE DEVICES - 19 (EI)

     WHEREAS, M-44 sodium cyanide de­vices are effective tools used to control wild animals that prey upon livestock, as well as threatened and endangered species; and

    WHEREAS, the U.S. Department of Agri­culture’s Wildlife Services utilizes the M-44 devices to control these predators and assist livestock producers; and

      WHEREAS, when properly utilized, there are no occupational risks of concern to hu­mans; and

     WHEREAS, Wildlife Services has em­ployed stringent safety steps, only placing the devices on private land with written per­mission and posting warning signs about the predacide; and

     WHEREAS, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recently withdrawn its in­terim registration review decision on sodium cyanide; and

     WHEREAS, the loss of the M-44 sodium cyanide devices would impair Wildlife Ser­vices’ ability to do its job and would result in severe economic consequences if predators were left unchecked.

     THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, the NDSA opposes the elimination or restriction of M-44 sodium cyanide devices and urges EPA to reverse its interim withdrawal deci­sion.

 

U.S. DROUGHT MONITOR - 19 (EI)

     WHEREAS, the U.S. Drought Monitor ad­ministered by the University of Nebraska-Lin­coln (UNL) establishes the drought status for counties across the United States; and

     WHEREAS, the U.S. Drought Monitor is used as the mechanism to assess disaster re­lief payments under the Livestock Forage Program administered by the Farm Service Agency; and

     WHEREAS, the determination to list a county’s drought classification as moderate (D1), severe (D2), extreme (D3) or exception­al (D4) is based on five criterion:

     1) the Palm­er Drought Index.

     2) the CPC Soil Moisture Model.

     3) the U.S. Geological Survey’s Week­ly Streamflow statistics.

     4) the Standardized Precipitation Index.

     5) Objective Short-and Long-term Indicator Blends; and

     WHEREAS, the current criteria used to establish a county’s drought classification by UNL do not necessarily reflect the true severi­ty of a drought; and

     WHEREAS, an inaccurate drought status has a detrimental impact on the total payment a rancher will receive under the Livestock Forage Program.

     THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, the NDSA urges UNL to take the necessary steps to adjust the criteria used to determine a coun­ty’s drought classification so as to be consis­tent with actual on-the-ground conditions; and

     THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RE­SOLVED, the NDSA requests UNL es­tablish a formalized system to more readily accept data submitted from local researchers and federal and state agencies and be used by university staff when making drought classi­fications.

 

PRAIRIE DOGS - 19 (EI)

     WHEREAS, the prairie dog is a nuisance rodent that destroys grasses, leaving the soil vulnerable to erosion and invasion by noxious weeds, and is a known host to vectors that carry Bubonic Plague that is threatening to humans; and

     WHEREAS, they exist throughout the West in numbers well above endangered levels.

     THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, the NDSA opposes any listing of the prairie dog as a threatened or endangered species.

     THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RE­SOLVED, the NDSA urges the North Dako­ta Department of Agriculture to declare the prairie dog a pest and the proper authorities to enforce its control.

 

WETLANDS - 19 (EI)

     WHEREAS, the federal government’s cur­rent policy on wetlands affects the use, val­ue and private property rights on millions of acres of privately owned agricultural land; and

     WHEREAS, the federal government’s of­ficial method of defining wetlands is gravely flawed and leads to wetlands delineation of ranch and farm land which should not be con­sidered wetlands; and

     WHEREAS, cattle grazing is a beneficial maintenance use of wet areas and thereby pro­tects natural wetland values; and

     WHEREAS, surface inundation exists for a significant portion of the growing season of every year under normal precipitation.

     THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, the NDSA opposes any federal wetlands regula­tory authority over all man-made wet areas.

     THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RE­SOLVED, the NDSA pursues changes to ben­efit the livestock industry in the federal wet­lands policy.

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