Saturday, January 17, 2009

Does the EPA have mad cow disease?

As the Wall Street Journal and others recently reported, the Environmental Protection Agency, using one of President Bush's midnight regulations, just exempted large scale factory farms (aka CAFOs) from reporting emissions of noxious gases caused by animal waste.

A GAO study said such farms can generate as much as 1.6 million tons of manure annually. That's not in total...that is each factory farm. This translates to almost 500,000 tons of CO2 per year, or the equivalent of the exhaust from 100,000 automobiles, for each CAFO. There are thousands of CAFOs, so this is like ignoring hundreds of million of automobiles. Of course this will remain an estimate, since the farms no longer have to report.

This move is part of the bizarre notion that the Clean Air Act does not require the agency to deal directly with greenhouse gasses, despite the agency' s stated mission of "protecting both environmental quality and human health through effective regulations and other policy implementation."

As we have stated several times, ClimatePath does not believe in livestock based credits, or other credits which subsidize industries that do not pick up after themselves. Ironically, the mere existence of cattle based carbon credits (methane credits, actually) validates the harm done by livestock waste. The industry has been fighting hard against environmental regulations, or any sort of carbon tax on cattle to clean up the mess that the industry makes. Estimates are that the tax would be $100/cow, which would translate to 6-8 cents per gallon of milk.

So many solutions are within our grasp, if we only take the problem seriously. So many special interests oppose change, when change is what we need.

- Dave

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