No More Baked Beans For You!

The Obama Administration’s “Climate Action Plan” aims to save the earth by reducing flatulence.

This is the kind of story to tickle the six-year-old kid in the last row in the classroom.  You know the kid:  the guy who can toot on command, and who loves to create faux farts in his armpit during math tests by raising and lowering his elbow…  the bane of classroom etiquette, the kid who singlehandedly raised the teacher’s blood pressure by three points last semester.

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Last week, we got our chuckles when Britain’s climate change minister Lady Verma encouraged her fellow Brits to modify their diets, reducing their consumption of baked beans to help reduce “smelly emissions” (aka farts), thus saving the world from global warming.  

Indeed, Britain boasts the largest production of baked beans, and the largest consumption of beans, in the world.  So when Labour peer Viscount Simon asked 

‘Could you say whether this affects the calculation of global warming by the Government as a result of the smelly emission resulting therefrom?’

Lady Verma acknowledged the dastardly effect of human flatulence:

‘You do actually raise a very important point, which is we do need to moderate our behaviour.’

Beangrowers, beware!  Better to dedicate some of your acreage to alternative crops.

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Meanwhile, here in the USA, Senate Republicans warn that President Obama’s new focus on agricultural methane emissions could mean a tax on livestock emissions — including cow flatulence.

Under a proposed plan, the dairy industry will be required to reduce methane emissions by 25 percent by 2020.  The Agriculture Department, Energy Department and Environmental Protection Agency are working together to develop a “Biogas” roadmap to reduce methane emissions.

Senator John Thune (R-SD) and fellow GOP senators sent a letter to Obama administration officials, warning that Obama’s methane reduction plan could lead to “heavy-handed” regulations which would “have detrimental implications on livestock operations across the country.”

The EPA is currently barred from regulating livestock methane emissions through an “annual appropriations rider”; but Republicans worry that they’ll try again.  According to a report in the Daily Caller,

“In 2008, as part of its Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to regulate GHGs under the Clean Air Act, the EPA deliberated regulating agriculture-related emissions, which would have required farmers to purchase expensive permits,” Republicans wrote to the heads of the USDA, DOE and EPA.

“It was estimated that these top-down regulations would have cost medium-sized dairy farms with 75 to 125 cows between $13,000 and $22,000 a year, and medium-sized cattle farms with 200 to 300 cows between $17,000 and $27,000,” Republicans added. “We reject the notion that the EPA should, absent express authorization from Congress, seek to regulate the agriculture sector in this manner.”

Cows produce methane naturally, through a process called “enteric fermentation.”  Since cattle emissions make up an estimated 20 percent of U.S. methane emissions, the EPA could implement rules targeting livestock feed or management methods.

The Republicans, in their letter to government officials, wrote,

“The agriculture community is committed to environmental stewardship, which is evidenced by the 11 percent reduction in agriculture-related methane emissions since 1990.  It is our hope that the EPA, USDA, and DOE will work with Congress and the agriculture industry to outline voluntary measures that can be taken to reduce emissions without imposing heavy-handed regulations on farms across America.”


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