As part of its plan to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, the Obama administration is targeting the dairy industry to reduce methane emissions in their operations.
This comes despite falling methane emission levels across the economy since 1990.
The White House has proposed cutting methane emissions from the dairy industry by 25 percent by 2020. Although U.S. agriculture only for about 9 percent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, it makes up a sizeable portion of methane emissions — which is a very potent greenhouse gas.
Some of these methane emissions come from cow flatulence, exhaling and belching — other livestock animals release methane as well.
“Cows emit a massive amount of methane through belching, with a lesser amount through flatulence,” according to How Stuff Works. “Statistics vary regarding how much methane the average dairy cow expels. Some experts say 100 liters to 200 liters a day… while others say it’s up to 500 liters… a day. In any case, that’s a lot of methane, an amount comparable to the pollution produced by a in a day.”
“Of all domestic animal types, beef and dairy cattle were by far the largest emitters of [methane],” according to an EPA analysis charting greenhouse gas emissions in .... Cows and other animals produce methane through digestion, which ferments the food of animals.
“During digestion, microbes resident in an animal’s digestive ferment food consumed by the animal,” the EPA notes. “This microbial fermentation process, referred to as enteric fermentation, produces [methane] as a byproduct, which can be exhaled or eructated by the animal.”
It’s not just the dairy industry that the Obama administration is clamping down on. The White is looking to regulate methane emissions across the economy from agriculture to oil and gas operations — all this despite methane emissions falling 11 percent since 1990.
Methane emissions have largely been reduced because of the incentive for to capture it and sell it for monetary gain. Oil and gas companies, for example, have been looking for ways to increasingly capture methane leaked from drilling operations which they can then sell.
“The industry has led efforts to reduce emissions of methane by developing new and equipment, and recent studies show emissions are far lower than EPA projected just a few years ago,” said Howard Feldman, head of scientific and regulatory affairs at the American Petroleum Institute. “Additional regulations are not necessary and could have a chilling effect on the American energy renaissance, our economy, and our national security.”
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