Ag Policy Blog

Senators Concerned Plan to Reduce Methane Emissions Will Hurt Ag

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Environmental Editor
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It wasn't long ago when aggies concerned about rumors of EPA regulation of methane from cows through a so-called 'cow tax' were the butt of jokes in some circles.

Now the Obama Administration's methane reduction strategy released in March is raising concern among U.S. senators that the agency is moving forward with regulating methane emissions from cattle through the creation of a so-called "Biogas Roadmap," a joint effort between USDA, EPA and the U.S. Department of Energy set for release in June.

The goal of the administration's action plan is to reduce methane emissions from agriculture by 25% by 2020.

Although the administration maintains in the action plan that much of agriculture's methane reductions will be accomplished through voluntary measures, in a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and DOE Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz this week a group of senators are concerned that reductions will be done through regulations that could be costly to the dairy and cattle industries.

The letter was signed by Sens. John Hoeven R-N.D., John Thune, R-S.D., Mike Johanns, R-Neb., Deb Fischer, R-Neb., Roy Blunt, R-Mo., John Cornyn, R-Texas, Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Ron Johnson, R-Wis., Mike Lee, R-Utah, Rand Paul, R-Ky., Jim Risch, R-Idaho, Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., Pat Toomey, R-Pa. and David Vitter, R-La.

"Federal regulations of GHGs in the agriculture sector would have detrimental implications on livestock operations across the country," the senators wrote in the letter.

"In 2008, as part of its advanced notice of proposed rulemaking to regulate GHGs under the Clean Air Act, the EPA deliberated regulating agriculture-related emissions, which would have required farmers to purchase expensive permits.

"It was estimated that these top-down regulations would have cost medium-sized dairy farms with 75 to 125 cows between $13,000 and $22,000 a year, and medium-sized cattle farms with 200 to 300 cows between $17,000 and $27,000.

"We reject the notion that the EPA should, absent express authorization from Congress, seek to regulate the agriculture sector in this manner.

"The agriculture community is committed to environmental stewardship, which is evidenced by the 11% reduction in agriculture-related methane emissions since 1990. It is our hope that the EPA, USDA, and DOE will work with Congress and the agriculture industry to outline voluntary measures that can be taken to reduce emissions without imposing heavy-handed regulations on farms across America.

"We respectfully request that you commit in writing to refrain from proposing new regulations, guidelines, or other mandatory requirements on methane or other GHGs from the agriculture industry."

Read the administration's methane action plan here,….

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4/17/2014 | 11:38 AM CDT
Just what is the matter with these people. Everything they do does more harm to this country than good, for what to satisfy some elitist morons who whine to every socialist Democrat in Washington. Fascist is probably the proper description for this collection of fools.
Bonnie Dukowitz
4/17/2014 | 5:34 AM CDT
Are wetlands not the largest emitter of methane? Are fish and ducks, pooping in lakes, a smelly major player? Is the concept of stirring up mulch piles containing yard waste, to reduce P. run-off, generating methane emissions? I believe in conscious conservation practices, however this appears to be another program of government control and job security efforts which contradicts efforts and recommendations of others with-in the same department. Does one assume the likes of W. Buffet have a patent on, install your own, cow fart meters and agency approved chicken pooper scoopers?
4/16/2014 | 6:59 PM CDT
We better check who are the ones really putting out the bad gas! If these type of things keep passing we are in serious trouble in this country! Tied so called conservation compliance to crop insurance so some wildlife extremist can try to take our farms so 2-5 times normal of ducks can swim and we can drown. Where is our constitution? Now cow putting off to much gas! These guys have no business managing anything, let alone our farms!