The Obama administration has recently decided to tackle yet another pressing national problem: namely burping and flatulent dairy cows.
Yes, those cud-chewing, milk-producing, methane-burping bovines now have a big red bullseye on their hides in President Obama’s crusade to stop “global warming.”
According to a March 28 announcement from the White House, “in June, in partnership with the dairy industry, the USDA, EPA and DOE will jointly release a ‘Biogas Roadmap’ outlining voluntary strategies to accelerate adoption of methane digesters and other cost-effective technologies to reduce U.S. dairy sector greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020.”
This is despite the fact that there hasn’t been any significant global warming since 1998, and in the last 200 years the average global temperature has risen, at most, by 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
According to the EPA, methane is the second most prevalent greenhouse gas emitted in the United States, making up 9 percent of emissions from human activities.
And though carbon dioxide remains the official bête noire of the global warming crowd, the EPA maintains the comparative impact of methane on climate change is over 20 times greater than carbon dioxide projected over a 100-year period.
As evidence of the need for such action, the EPA claims they studied the sources of methane over the period 1990 to 2012. The study concluded that gas and petroleum systems contribute 29 percent of methane emissions; manure management 9 percent; coal mining 10 percent; landfills 18 percent; and enteric fermentation 25 percent.
Enteric fermentation is what takes place in the digestive systems of animals such as cattle, sheep, goats and pigs as plant food is broken down into material the animal can digest.
Methane is a byproduct of the fermentation process which is expelled in the form of burping and flatulence with most of the methane coming from the front rather than the rear of the cow.
However, the stop-bossy-from-burping campaign is just one of many initiatives aimed at reducing methane production from sources such as landfills, coal mines, agriculture and the oil and gas sector. These programs go under names like Natural Gas STAR, AgSTAR, the Coalbed Methane Outreach Program and the Landfill Methane Outreach Program.
At Argentina’s National Institute of Agricultural Technology, scientists are putting methane to use with backpacks that collect gas via tubes plugged into the cows’ stomachs. With the typical cow emitting 250-300 liters of methane a day, researchers say this could be used to power a car or a refrigerator for a day.
Taking the idea to its logical conclusion, the United Nations and politicians in countries such as New Zealand, England and Denmark have floated the notion of taxing cow flatulence as a way of preventing global warming.
We aren’t at that point yet in the United States, but that may be the Obama administration’s next big hot air initiative.
Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or [email protected] Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.