GHGs at Livestock Agriculture Back in the Spotlight

“…factory farming in the U.S. is responsible for more GHG emissions than the entire transportation and industrial sector combined; including cars, trucks, buses, airplanes, trains, boats, and factories.”  That is the contention of authors of an article in “Counterpunch” (see link to the article at the bottom of this page).  The article has some other negative comments about large farming practices as well.

As it relates to regulation of GHGs, you may recall that in 40 CFR Part 98, the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Regulation Subpart JJ addresses Manure Management.  You may also recall that the EPA is not implementing Part 98, Subpart JJ due to a Congressional restriction prohibiting the expenditure of funds for this purpose.

And yet, there may be reason to keep an eye on the global warming debate as funding for “research” on the impact of GHGs continues. 

In a recent NASA study (January 2012), researchers suggest that 14 key air pollution control measures could, “slow the pace of global warming, improve health and boost agriculture production.” 

NASA goes on to say that, “While carbon dioxide is the primary driver of global warming over the long term, limiting black carbon and methane are complementary actions that would have a more immediate impact because these two pollutants circulate out of the atmosphere more quickly” (Black carbon is essentially the particulate matter from the combustion process, what might be called “soot”).

Of course, the next logical questions are what are the sources of methane & black carbon and what are the suggested control measures?

The NASA study offers seven measures to control methane emissions and seven measures to control black carbon emissions.  One of the seven suggested methane control measures is “Control of methane emissions from livestock, mainly through farm-scale anaerobic digestion of manure from cattle and pigs.”  The suggested measures for reduction in black carbon include “Diesel particulate filters for road and off-road vehicles…” and “ban on open burning of agricultural waste” (there was no further explanation of what is included in open burning).

Will this NASA study help influence EPA’s policy decisions? Who knows.  But certainly the interest in agriculture, whether as the focal point of studies and research or simply ad homonym attacks, has not waned. 

Keep a watchful eye on the GHG issue along with the countless other environmental regulations and court cases that can potentially have a significant impact on agriculture.

Article in “Counterpunch”



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