California Cracks Down on Dairy & Landfill Methane

     LONG BEACH, Calif. (CN) — California Gov. Jerry Brown continued his signing spree of climate change bills on Monday, inking a proposal that requires dairy farms and landfills to drastically cut methane and other short-lived climate pollutant emissions.
     Senate Bill 1383 directs state regulators to reduce short-lived climate pollutant levels 40 percent by 2030 and crack down on dairies emitting large amounts of methane gas.
     Brown has framed combating “super pollutants” — methane, black carbon and fluorinated gases — as the most efficient approach to slow global warming. On Monday, he championed fighting super pollutants as a public health necessity.
     “We’re protecting people’s lungs and their health by cutting out the poisonous chemical that comes out of diesel trucks and that comes out of many sources in what is known as black carbon,” Brown said during a signing ceremony. “That’s real stuff and it goes from some machine into the air and into your lungs.”
     The proposal gives California the strictest state policy on super pollutants and tasks the California Air Resources Board with creating a way to clean up the Golden State’s dairy farms.
     Scientists say belching cows and decomposing food in landfills release large amounts of methane gas into the atmosphere. California has an estimated 5 million dairy and beef cows and 1,400 dairies.
     Pollutants such as methane, black carbon and fluorinated gases remain in the atmosphere for much shorter time periods than carbon dioxide emissions caused by the combustion of fossil fuels.
     The bill requires the board to adopt a plan to rein in methane emissions from livestock manure operations and organic waste in California landfills as well.
     State Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, authored the bill, which inched past the Assembly just three votes clear of the minimum margin and then cleared the state Senate in a 25-12 vote in August. It was vehemently opposed by California’s powerful agriculture industry.
     Farming interests warn that SB 1383 will increase the authority of the air resources board, the agency responsible for enforcing California’s strict and growing climate policies. The opponents claim there is no proven way to reduce cow emissions and that the measure’s implementation costs will be needlessly handed down to farmers.
     “The air resources board wants to regulate cow emissions, even though its short-lived climate pollutant reduction strategy acknowledges that there’s no known way to achieve this reduction,” Western United Dairymen CEO Anja Raudabaugh said in a statement.
     In previous reports, the air resources board has also recommended a 50 percent cut in black carbon emissions caused by wood-burning fireplaces. It also cites wildfires as the largest source of black carbon emissions in the Golden State.
     Last week Brown approved a package of climate and clean-air bills and dedicated $900 million to greenhouse gas reduction plans in California’s poorest communities. Brown has also approved laws mandating California reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.

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