California’s desire to combat so-called global warming has led it to attack what it believes is deadly even if it is often silent – cow flatulence.
According to an AP report, the self-proclaimed leading agricultural state is now focusing on what it calls “greenhouse gases” produced by dairy cows.
In spite of opposition from farmers, California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation that regulates heat-trapping gases from livestock businesses for the first time.
Cattle and other farm animals produce methane, a gas that is referred to as a greenhouse gas and alleged to be more potent than carbon dioxide as a heat-trapping gas. Methane is released when cows belch, pass gas, and make manure.
“If we can reduce emissions of methane, we can really help to slow global warming,” said Ryan McCarthy, of the California Air Resources Board, which is drawing up rules for the new law.
Livestock are said to be responsible for 14.5 percent of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions, according to a 2013 United Nations report.
Since passage of its global warming law in 2006, California has been reducing carbon emissions from automobiles, homes and factories.
The new California law aims to reduce methane emissions from dairies and livestock businesses to 40 percent below 2013 levels by 2030, McCarthy said.
One way the state plans to reduce the amount of gas passed by cows is in requiring farmers to feed them a specific diet designed to produce less gas.
State regulators also want more farmers to reduce emissions with what are called methane digesters, which use storage tanks to capture methane from manure and convert the gas into electricity.
Farmers are decrying the added expense in what is already one of the most expensive states in the country to do business and in a year when drought has caused even greater expense than usual.
“The bottom line is it’s going to negatively impact the economics of the California dairy industry,” said Arlin Van Groningen, a third-generation farmer. “In the dairy business, the margins are so slim that something like this will force us out of state.”