18 Dec 2008

Cow Taxes

The New York Times greenblog says:
The comment period for the Environmental Protection Agency’s exploration of greenhouse gas regulation ended last Friday, with farmers lobbying furiously against the notion of a “cow tax” on methane, a potent greenhouse gas emitted by livestock. The New York Farm Bureau issued a statement last week saying it feared that a tax could reach $175 per cow, $87.50 per head of beef cattle and upward of $20 for each hog.


The hysteria may be premature, however. The E.P.A. indeed issued an “advanced notice of proposed rulemaking” this summer that called for public comments on the idea of regulating greenhouse gas emissions from cars, as well as “stationary sources” — which, yes, would include cows and other livestock.
Meanwhile, California's plan to cut emissions advances with the following steps to cut greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by 2020 (a 30 percent reduction from today's levels):
  • Put 85 percent of greenhouse gas-emitting industries into a cap-and-trade program.
  • Require utilities to produce 33 percent of their energy from renewable sources.
  • Increase efficiency standards for new and existing buildings.
  • Discourage urban sprawl by building housing near transit hubs.
  • Lower methane levels in landfills and encourage high levels of recycling and zero trash in landfills.
Wait -- they left off the cows!

Bottom Line: A reduction in carbon emissions will be painful in the short run (next 20-30 years) but potentially beneficial in the long run (30+ years) if reductions avoid "bads" that would happen without them. (Kind of annoying, not knowing how things are going to work out, eh?)