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Cow tax’ for methane emissions fails to pass Courier's smell test

By Judith Pannebaker

For those not “in the know,” an idea supposedly floated by the Environmental Protection Agency included plans to tax livestock annually to the tune of $175 for each dairy cow, $87.50 for each head of beef cattle and $20 for each hog as part of the proposed Clean Air Act.

In response, the EPA recently released the following statement to squelch the apparently unfounded rumors that the agency plans to “tax” livestock producers for methane emissions:

“EPA is not proposing a cow tax. The CAA (Clean Air Act) does not include a broad grant of authority for EPA to impose taxes, fees or other monetary charges specifically for greenhouse gases (GHGs) and, therefore, additional legislative authority may be required if EPA were to administer such charges - which we will refer to collectively as fees.

“In response to the April 2007 finding in the Supreme Court case Massachusetts v. EPA that greenhouse gases are air pollutants under the CAA, EPA issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) in July 2008 to solicit comments about a number of options and questions to be considered for possible greenhouse gas regulations under the Clean Air Act. The period to submit comments on the ANPR ended on November 28, 2008.

“The ANPR does not recommend the use of any particular CAA authority to regulate any emissions, nor does it commit to specific next steps to address greenhouse gases. The ANPR provides a comprehensive, in-depth exploration of the opportunities and challenges that the application of CAA authorities would present.  It examines the interconnections among CAA provisions and the implications of applying particular CAA authorities to reduce greenhouse gases.”

EPA is currently reviewing the public comments and does not yet have a timeframe for next steps.

(Editor’s note: There you have it, folks - another rural myth exploded - no pun intended. However, as we all know, just because a proposal is fictional, lobbyists won’t stop lobbying against it, television talking heads won’t stop reporting on it, politicians won’t stop publicly denouncing it and newspapers won’t stop covering it. But, Bandera County ranchers and farmers, for the next few months - and perhaps years - you may allow your livestock to fart with impunity without fear of fiscal reprisal.)