California to Regulate Cow Pies, Farts

Published October 26, 2016

Poor and low-income Californians face some of the nation’s highest electricity, gasoline, and housing prices and taxes. Critics, including California Republican state legislators, argue a law passed in the final hours of the state’s 2016 legislative session by California’s Democrat controlled legislature piled-on the poor by approving $900 million in spending on environmental programs.

The bill included provisions forcing dairies and livestock producers to reduce methane emissions from manure 40 percent below their 2013 levels by 2030. In addition, provisions in the new law empower the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to force farmers to limit cow flatulence to the extent technology exists to reduce it.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reports CARB expects dairy farmers to purchase “technology to capture methane and then sell the biogas to customers,” although the Board admits this plan would only be cost-effective with “substantial government subsidies and regulatory credits.”

Methane Regulations Punish the Poor

The WSJ points out California’s new methane emission laws could result in the world’s most expensive milk. Republican lawmakers raised this issue when fighting against the law. Yahoo News quoted state Sen. Jeff Stone (R-Temecula) saying the spending “goes to many Democrat pet projects … pursu[ing] long-term greenhouse gas reduction goals that will continue to harm families and jobs.”

Because milk is a staple food for many, the Cornwall Alliance also objects to California’s new methane limits saying they will place an unnecessary burden on the poor.

Writing on the Cornwall Alliance blog, E. Calvin Beisner, founder and national spokesman for the Alliance said, “the reduction in global warming, and so likewise its benefits, would be infinitesimally small, but its harm to California’s poor significant, the policy doesn’t pass the smell test.”

Kenneth Artz ([email protected]) writes from Dallas, Texas.