A handful of U.S. senators have cosponsored legislation to block a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plan to regulate greenhouse gas emissions – including emissions from cattle – as air pollutants under the Clean Air Act. The legislation would prevent the regulation from adversely affecting livestock producers by amending the Clean Air Act to preclude regulation of naturally occurring livestock emissions, including methane and carbon dioxide.

The bill is cosponsored by Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Kit Bond (R-Mo.), Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.).

“This would have a devastating impact on livestock producers because cattle emit methane, one of the gases the EPA proposes to regulate,” said Johanns. “The steep tax that would result is commonly referred to as the ‘cow tax.’ ”

“For a state like Nebraska, which ranks first in the nation in commercial red meat production, this EPA proposal could have devastating consequences,” Johanns said. “This ‘cow tax’ could cost farmers and ranchers tens of thousands of dollars per farm per year. With the rising costs of production, this could put family farms at risk of going under. The legislation I am co-sponsoring applies some common sense to ensure the Clean Air Act isn’t stretched to far-reaching applications that it was never intended to cover.”

“The Clean Air Act was written to curb pollution from the smokestack industries, not to regulate the livestock industry,” said Thune. ”This is the first step in a slippery slope that could result in implementation of a tax on all CO2 emissions. The EPA has opened the door by starting with automobiles, but the reality is that this is the first step in a process that could result in sweeping regulations that could result in a tax on naturally occurring emissions from livestock. If the Administration wants to implement climate change legislation, it should work with Congress to pass bi-partisan legislation rather than finding a way around working through the legislative process.”

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