USDA Closing Offices, EPA Releases First GHG Data

By Tina Caparella

In an effort to “meet the evolving needs of the 21st century agricultural economy,” the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has released a plan that will streamline operations and cut costs. Part of the department’s strategy is to close 259 offices, facilities, and laboratories across the country as well as seven foreign offices.

The Blueprint for Stronger Service is based on a department-wide review of operations conducted as part of the Obama administration’s Campaign to Cut Waste to make government work better and more efficiently. When fully implemented, these actions along with other recommended changes such as reducing travel and consolidating service expenses will save about $150 million annually in the agency’s $145 billion budget.

The following actions to close or consolidate facility, office, and lab operations will impact USDA headquarters in Washington, DC, and operations in 46 states, one U.S. territory, and seven overseas locations.

• Farm Service Agency: consolidate 131 county offices in 32 states; more than 2,100 offices remain throughout the United States.

• Foreign Agricultural Service: close two overseas offices; more than 95 offices remain throughout the world.

• Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS): close 15 offices in 11 states and five offices in five foreign countries; more than 560 offices remain throughout the United States and 55 remain throughout the world.

• Rural Development: close 43 area and sub-offices in 17 states and U.S. territories; approximately 450 offices remain throughout the United States.

• Natural Resources Conservation Service: close 24 soil survey offices in 21 states; more than 2,800 offices remain throughout the country.

• Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS): close five district offices in five states; 10 district offices remain throughout the United States.

• Agricultural Research Service: close 12 programs at 10 locations; more than 240 programs remain throughout the country.

• Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services: close 31 field offices in 28 states; 32 offices will remain throughout the United States.

After an initial look at the proposed closures, Tom Cook, president, National Renderers Association, didn’t see any that could affect renderers, but other industry groups and those impacted by the closures voiced concern and shock. While Colin Woodall, vice president for Government Affairs at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, told the Associated Press (AP) he commended the USDA for trying to save taxpayer money, he expressed concern about food safety, probably in reference to the loss of five FSIS district offices and 15 APHIS offices.

Andrew Lorenz, deputy district manager for the FSIS in Minneapolis, MN, was surprised when he learned his office would be closed along with those in Madison, WI, and Lawrence, KS.

“They wiped out the entire Midwest,” Lorenz is quoted in the same AP article. His office handles all federal inspections of meat, poultry, and egg products in Minnesota, Montana, the Dakotas, and Wyoming.

EPA Releases First GHG Data
For the first time, comprehensive greenhouse gas (GHG) data reported directly from large facilities and suppliers across the United States are now easily accessible through the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) GHG Reporting Program. The 2010 GHG data released in January includes public information from facilities in nine industry groups that directly emit large quantities of GHGs, as well as suppliers of certain fossil fuels.

EPA’s online data publication tool allows users to view and sort GHG data for calendar year 2010 from over 6,700 facilities in a variety of ways including by facility, location, industrial sector, and the type of GHG emitted. Data for direct emitters show that in 2010 power plants were the largest stationary sources of direct emissions with 2,324 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (mmt/CO2e), followed by petroleum refineries with emissions of 183 mmt/CO2e. Carbon dioxide accounted for the largest share of direct GHG emissions with 95 percent, followed by methane with four percent, and nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases accounting for the remaining one percent. In addition, 100 facilities each reported emissions over seven mmt/CO2e, including 96 power plants, two iron and steel mills, and two refineries.

A quick glance at just the 1,900 “other industry, government, and commercial” sector companies in the reporting data show quite an array of businesses, from food and beverage processors, medical centers, and airline maintenance operations, to dairies, ethanol manufacturers, airports, and universities. Several independent rendering plants are also listed in the reporting data.

Mandated by the fiscal year 2008 Consolidated Appropriations Act, EPA launched the GHG Reporting Program in October 2009, requiring the reporting of GHG data from large emission sources across a range of industry sectors, as well as suppliers of products that would emit GHGs if released or combusted. Most reporting entities submitted data for calendar year 2010. However, an additional 12 source categories will begin reporting their 2011 GHG data in 2012.

The GHG Reporting Program data can be accessed at

February 2012 RENDER | back