Congressman Warns of 'Cow Fart' Tax Causing Beef and Dairy to 'Disappear' from Supermarkets


Is regulating greenhouse gases a necessary means to stop so-called manmade global warming? Or is it an effort by the government to exert more control over Americans’ day-to-day lives?


According to Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wisc., the ranking member of the House Select Committee for Energy Independence and Global Warming, it is the latter, and it could have a devastating impact on agribusiness.


Sensenbrenner, speaking at the Heartland Institute’s Third International Conference on Climate Change in Washington, D.C. on June 2, explained that a 2007 Supreme Court decision gave the Environmental Protection Agency the ability to regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) as a pollutant, which opened the door for the agency to regulate other gases.


 “In a 5-4 decision in the case of Massachusetts versus the EPA,” Sensenbrenner explained, the Court “said the EPA could declare CO2 was a pollutant. Now there are several greenhouse gases. CO2 is the one that is the most common and the largest producer of CO2 in the world is the ocean, which we’re not going to be able to control.”


However, if the EPA were given the authority to regulate CO2 as a pollutant, it would also mean the government agency has the ability to regulate methane gas – which is primarily emitted from livestock. Sensenbrenner called this the “cow fart tax.”


“However, methane gas is much more effective in keeping warmth in the atmosphere than CO2, but has a much shorter half-life,” Sensenbrenner explained. “To show you how ridiculous this is getting, the EPA has got the proposed regulation imposing a cow fart tax of $175 a year on every head of dairy cattle in the United States and $80 for beef cattle, $20 per head of hogs.”


The Wisconsin congressman didn’t have a technological solution for livestock greenhouse gas emissions.


“I don’t know if we’re supposed to develop the technology to strap a catalytic converter on the back of a cow,” Sensenbrenner quipped.


Earlier this year, the Farm Bureau told the Business & Media Institute such a tax was plausible according to the EPA’s Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) for regulating greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. However, Sensenbrenner speculated that such a tax could result in dairy products and beef disappearing from the shelves in supermarkets, as a British study he cited had warned.


“This again has got a pretty hefty impact,” Sensenbrenner said. “What I will say is the Brits have looked at this issue and there is a study that was given by a scientific advisory committee to British Parliament that said the cow fart tax will have to be imposed in the U.K. in order to reduce what are referred to as congestive gases. Dairy products and beef will disappear from the shelves in British supermarkets. This goes to the whole business of control.”