f0038 BC-US-ClimateBill-CowTa 06-20 1085
Lobby wins on cow burps
By Dina Cappiello
WASHINGTON — One contributor to global warming — bigger than coal mines, landfills and sewage treatment plants — is being left out of efforts by the Obama administration and House Democrats to limit greenhouse gas emissions.
Belching from the nation’s 170 million cattle, sheep and pigs produces about one-quarter of the methane released in the U.S. each year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. That makes the hoofed critters the largest source of the heat-trapping gas.
In part because of an adept farm lobby campaign that equates government regulation with a cow tax, the gas that farm animals pass is exempt from legislation being considered by Congress to limit greenhouse gas emissions.
The EPA under President Barack Obama has said it has no plans to regulate the gas, even though the agency recently included methane among six greenhouse gases it believes are endangering human health and welfare.
Research has shown that changing cattle diet and boosting efficiency — such as producing the same amount of milk and beef from a smaller herd — can result in less gas, according Frank M. Mitloehner, an associate professor at the University of California at Davis, who has studied livestock gas for 15 years.