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?)


  1. For a variety of reasons, the CAA is the wrong mechanism for regulating GHG's. I think we should be regulating them, but the CAA is not the authority that should be used.

  2. You don't like the Clean Air Act as a means of regulation? While I agree that it's a slight stretch to use the CAA to regulate something that doesn't make the air "dirty", I disagree.
    1) It's the AIR that's got the GHGs in them AND the process that puts GHGs in the air is similar to the process that puts other nasties in the air.

    2) What other way/law/agency could/should regulate GHGs? Dept of Energy? They LOVE burning fuel/ Dept of Ag? They LOVE ethanol and other destructive ways of getting $$ to farmers (lobbyists, really...)

  3. No, no, I was too brief. I think we SHOULD reduce GHGs and that it will likely have to come from gvt policy. What I think is a bad idea is to (de facto) make CO2 a criteria pollutant like NOx, SOx, PB, O3, CO, and PM. It just fit. Because CO2 is well mixed (unlike the criteria pollutants currently listed) you'd either have all the U.S. in attainment or out of attainment. Moreover, background concentrations would higher than your ambient standard. That would make a standard odd. Our standard alone would never decrease the abient concetration.

    It really needs to happen by another mechanism, thats all I was saying.

  4. Anon -- please retype your commnet to make it clearer. (I don't understand and, yes, I *did* have my coffee.)

    Also please tell me which agency/regulatory method is better than EPA/CAA.


Read this first!

Make sure you copy your comment before submitting because sometimes the system will malfunction and you will lose your comment.

Spam will be deleted.

Comments on older posts must be approved (do not submit twice).

If you're having problems posting, email your comment to me