Thursday, October 13, 2011

The DC Mind, Part 266,704

Back with the series.  Here, we find that EPA wants to kill off an entire ecosystem (!)

In order for the waist-high bluestem grass to grow, each year in April the ranchers must burn the prairie. This helps to eliminate invasive species like the Eastern Red Cedar and other, shorter grasses which now hold sway in the western part of the state. It also burns off the dead grass from the year before.

This yearly burn is not only natural; it is required in order to maintain the highly fragile ecosystem of the tall-grass prairie. Only 4 percent of it remains these days, nearly 80 percent of that in Kansas.

So what does EPA do?

EPA decided to require the burn plan because the smoke from the fires can stretch as far as Tennessee and affect air quality in cities downwind. If Kansas couldn’t come up with a plan, EPA would stop the burns — and destroy an ecosystem.

According to Mike Beam, a vice president of the Kansas Livestock Association (KLA), they along with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment came up with a mostly voluntary plan which so far has kept the burns from being proscribed. However, in Wichita and Kansas City this year there was a problem with air quality after the burns, and the KLA is still waiting to hear if the request for an air quality waiver has been granted. If it’s not, then the ranchers may find themselves with a problem if Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS), who introduced similar legislation the last couple of years, can’t get a bill passed to exempt the Flint Hills from the Clean Air Act.

The ranchers are interested because their cattle feed on the bluestem grass.

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