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Obama Administration's Ag Methane Regulations See Pushback

Obama Administration's Ag Methane Regulations See Pushback
Senators say regulations could amount to $27,000 annually for some livestock farms

Nebraska Republican Sens. Mike Johanns and Deb Fischer are pushing back methane reduction plans proposed by President Obama more than two weeks ago.

Joined by a group of other Republicans, the group said USDA, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency should end the methane reduction plans, which the Administration touted as "cost-effective voluntary actions and common-sense standards" to complete emissions goals.

The ag industry is just one area where the methane plan would come into play; it is also focused on reducing emissions from landfills, coal mines, and the oil and gas industries.

Related: Obama Administration Calls on Ag to Cut Methane Emissions

USDA plan suggests wider adoption of anaerobic digesters like this one on a Pennslyvania dairy farm. (USDA photo)

The Senators say if the regulations are enacted, they could cost medium-sized dairy farms up to $22,000 and medium-sized cattle farms up to $27,000 annually.

"Ag producers have a tremendous stock in maintaining a healthy environment—their livelihoods depend on it," Johanns said. "These sorts of top-down regulations are not only absurd, but they create a tremendous burden for the industry."

Johanns suggested instead that agencies work with Congress and the ag industry to develop more "manageable strategies" to reach environmental goals, rather than more regulations.

The plan details reductions outlined in the USDA, EPA and DOE's "Biogas Roadmap," which offers voluntary strategies to increase adoption of methane digesters and other technologies.

The plan did receive support from the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy and the National Farmers Union.


Sen. Fischer, however, says that the plan could cause farmers economic hardship. "Before these agencies start dispensing fresh reams of red tape, they first should consider the economic impact these new requirements will have on producers and their operations," she noted in a statement.

Related: $1.6 Million Project Studies Livestock GHG Emissions

"The agriculture community works hard year-round to protect our natural resources, as shown by the measurable progress in reducing methane emissions in previous years. More heavy-handed regulations will only create unnecessary burdens and increase costs for the livestock industry."

President Obama's plan calls for a 25% reduction in livestock methane greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.

Johanns says currently, EPA is prevented from regulating GHG emissions associated with livestock production through an annual appropriations rider that expires at the end of each fiscal year.

The letter's additional signatories include: Sens. John Thune, R-S.D., Roy Blunt, R-Mo., John Cornyn, R-Texas, Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, John Hoeven, R-N.D., Ron Johnson, R-Wis., Mike Lee, R-Utah, Rand Paul, R-Ky., Jim Risch, R-Idaho, Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., Pat Toomey, R-Pa. and David Vitter, R-La.

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