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Posts Tagged ‘EPA’

A coalition is petitioning the Environmental Protection Agency to list emissions from CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations aka Factory Farms) under the Clean Air Act such that steps can be taken to begin regulating CAFOs.

The organizations include:  Humane Society of the United States, Association of Irritated Residents, Center on Race Poverty and the Environment, Clean Air Task Force, Dairy Education Alliance, El Comité para el Bienestar de Earlimart, Environmental Integrity Project, Friends of the Earth and Waterkeeper Alliance.

The 69-page petition provides detailed scientific and legal information about the significant emissions of methane and nitrous oxide—two greenhouse gases—as well as hydrogen sulfide and ammonia from factory farms, and how all of these pollutants have been shown to have negative effects on human health and welfare, including adverse effects on climate and the environment in the United States.

Read more…

Quotes:

“Unregulated air pollution from massive factory farms has a devastating impact on human health and the environment,” says Jonathan Lovvorn, vice president and chief counsel for Animal Protection Litigation and Research at The HSUS. “The EPA should hold these big agribusiness corporations accountable for the enormous harm they are inflicting on local communities, independent family farmers, and the environment.”

Our lungs and the future of our planet are not animal factory subsidies,” said Tom Fratz, president of the Association of Irritated Residents and a resident of the San Joaquin Valley, an air basin in California with more than 2.6 million dairy cows. “President Obama promised us during the election that he would protect rural residents from this pollution and we expect EPA to keep that promise.”

Hog lots and other factory farms aren’t just stinky, they’re also destabilizing our climate,” said Kate McMahon of Friends of the Earth. “The EPA has a legal obligation to protect the public by cracking down on this economic and public health threat – a threat that has yet to be addressed by climate legislation pending in Congress.”

The people who live in the communities devastated by unregulated air pollution from animal factories deserve protection” said Charlie Tebbutt of the Western Environmental Law Center and co-chair of the Dairy Education Alliance. “Implementing this petition will get animal factories into the Clean Air Act process and give communities better opportunities to protect themselves.”

Through global warming and deposition, the toxic emissions from industrial animal operations have profoundly impacted our water resources” said Hannah Connor of Waterkeeper Alliance. “By actively regulating the emissions from this industry, EPA will be taking a positive step towards protecting and enhancing not only the quality of our Nation’s air resources, but also the quality of our Nation’s water resources, and the public health and welfare of our communities.”

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The meat industry and its front groups like the Center for Consumer Freedom are perpetuating the myth that Americans should not be worried about the meat & global warming connection. This is the argument:

The US has a more efficient livestock production system. According to the 2006 US EPA report, US agriculture causes less than 6% of US greenhouse gases, while livestock causes only 2.58% of US GHG. The UN says 18% of *global* GHG is due to livestock. We should resume consumption patterns and keep the industry competitive; otherwise we’d be importing more meat from less GHG efficient livestock production systems, and cause MORE global warming.

The argument exploits very misleading and incomplete statistics and rests on some flawed assumptions. In the final analysis, what matters is the total VOLUME of American consumption & GHG production, and factoring in livestock’s land and land-use.

Below are some facts which point to how the US livestock industry is definitely a major contributor to global warming.

1. The US consumes FAR more meat / animal products than most of the world.

  • According to the UN FAO, the average American eats about 275 pounds of meat per year (more than any other country). The average Chinese eats 108 pounds per year (Earth Policy Insitute, 2005).
  • According to a 2005 FAO study on meat consumption between 1998 – 2002, the average meat consumption per Chinese is 52 kg, compared to Americans at 125 kg, and Britain at 80 kg.   note:  there are smaller countries which (on average, per person) consume a little more meat than the US – 300 mil. people (for example: New Zealand – 4 mil. people, Denmark 5.5 mil. people, and some countries which consume around the same amount of meat.
  • If the whole world ate meat at the American rate, only 2/5 of the world’s population (2.5 billion people) would be fed (Lester Brown).
  • So much for American efficiency. The world’s leading consumers of meat and animal products share the biggest responsibility for continuing to make the global livestock industry grow! As long as the meat industry continues to be supported by a growing culture of high volume meat eaters, the industry will be able to expand its reach globally.

    Dr. Barry Popkin, author of “The World is Fat”, agrees

    What’s more, the developing world seems to be falling in step, Popkin says. In India, meat and dairy intake more than doubled between 2000 and 2005. In 2006, the average diet of 67% of the Chinese population comprised at least 10% meat and dairy products, up from about 39% of the population in 1989. “We truly did this to the globe — changed the way the world eats,” says Popkin.

    2. The US produces FAR more GHG than most of the world.

    The U.S., with a population of about 300 million (5% of the world), produces about 18% (2009 US EPA) of GLOBAL greenhouse gases.

    Consider the image below which portrays the CO2 responsibility PER CAPITA by country between 1950-2000.

    CO2 responsibility 1950-2000

    Not surprisingly, most of the US and “Western countries” are the highest emitters. See more “List of countries by greenhouse gases in 2000”

    Even though China as a whole produces more CO2 as a country (since recently), their per capita emissions figures are STILL 1/3 – 1/4 of the US population (China recently officially surpassed the US in producing GHG, but China has 4 times the population (China has 1.3 billion people, US has 300 million people)).

    It’s a huge difference. So what does this tell us about the EPA’s estimates on livestocks GHG impact?

    We can predict that X% of US GHG per capita is far greater than X% of China’s GHG per capita.

    Basically 2.58% of US GHG is much more than 2.58% of China GHG (or most other countries).

    We know this because on average, one American is emitting as much GHG as four Chinese. In addition, one American consumes as much meat as 2-3 Chinese citizens (again, the average meat consumption per Chinese is 52 kg, compared to Americans at 125 kg – 2005 FAO)

    3. The US EPA report does not include land-use (deforestation, desertification) and other criteria used in the UN FAO report.

    As I explain in a previous post, the EPA report excludes the whole GLOBAL livestock commodity chain including fuel combustion, agricultural CO2 fluxes and land-use changes (such as deforestation), while the UN report includes these factors (as its a global organization, and land-use is probably difficult to quanity on a country level).

    According to the UN’s Livestock’s Long Shadow report, land-use is the primary reason why livestock’s share of global GHG is so high:

    “(livestock) accounts for nine percent of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions, most of it due to expansion of pastures and arable land for feed crops.

    The livestock sector is by far the single largest anthropogenic user of land. Grazing occupies 26 percent of the Earth’s terrestrial surface, while feed crop production requires about a third of all arable land. Expansion of grazing land for livestock is a key factor in deforestation, especially in Latin America: some 70 percent of previously forested land in the Amazon is used as pasture, and feed crops cover a large part of the reminder.

    Consider the GHG volume of land use compared to livestock’s other GHG sources:

    Land use and land use change: 2.5 Giga tonnes CO2 (#1) equivalent; including forest and other natural vegetation replaced by pasture and feed crop in the Neotropics (CO2) and carbon release from soils such as pasture and arable land dedicated to feed production (CO2)
    — Feed Production (except carbon released from soil): 0.4 Giga tonnes CO2 equivalent, including fossil fuel used in manufacturing chemical fertilizer for feed crops (CO2) and chemical fertilizer application on feedcrops and leguminous feed crop (N2O, NH3)
    — Animal production: 1.9 Giga tonnes CO2 equivalent, including enteric fermentation from ruminants (CH4) and on-farm fossil fuel use (CO2)
    — Manure Management: 2.2 Giga tonnes CO2 equivalent, mainly through manure storage, application and deposition (CH4, N2O, NH3)
    — Processing and international transport: 0.03 Giga tonnes CO2 equivalent

    From these figures we know that the U.S EPA omitted a huge cause of GHG from the livestock industry.

    In conclusion

    We know that…

    1. US meat consumption per capita is higher than most of the world’s.
    2. The US produces way too much GHG per capita (5% of world population produces about 18% of GHG)
    3. The US EPA report does not factor in the #1 cause of CO2 emissions from livestock: land and land-use (2.5 Giga tonnes).

    The US livestock industry’s share of the GLOBAL livestock industry’s greenhouse gases is much higher than the industry (whose prime consumers are Westerners) is willing to admit. It’s hard to calculate an exact figure, but we know the leading consumers and producers of meat also support the growth of a global livestock industry, which contributes most of its GHG through land and land-use.

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    It’s upsetting and a bit disturbing that a NY Times “Green blogger” has perpetuated a claim from the Center for Consumer Freedom that there is no strong connection between meat and global warming.

    The recent NY Times article titled “Meat & Climate: The Debate Continues” (which I refuse to link to) cites a press release from the CCF (a.k.a a front group for the restaurant, alcohol and tobacco industries) which used an EPA figure estimating that only 6% of US greenhouse gases are caused by agriculture production, including meat. They used this figure to argue that there is no significant connection between meat and global warming. The EPA figure stands in stark contrast to the 2006 UN FAO report (Livestock’s Longshadow) which attributes 18% of global greenhouse gases to livestock production.  Considering how much meat Americans consume, I find it hard to believe that the US produces far less GHG relative to other countries.

    If you read the first paragraph of the study, you would learn that the EPA figure omits the emissions from CO2 and land-use changes.  In contrast, the 2006 UN FAO study includes CO2, as well as methane and other greenhouse gases as a result of the entire livestock production process.

    EPA on Agriculture Emissions in 2006:

    “Agricultural activities contribute directly to emissions of greenhouse gases through a variety of processes. This chapter provides an assessment of non-carbon-dioxide emissions from the following source categories: enteric fermentation in domestic livestock, livestock manure management, rice cultivation, agricultural soil management, and field burning of agricultural residues (see Figure 6-1). Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and removals from agriculture-related land-use activities, such as conversion of grassland to cultivated land, are presented in the Land Use, Land-Use Change, and Forestry chapter. CO2 emissions from on-farm energy use are accounted for in the Energy chapter.”

    Livestock’s Longshadow:

    …Scientists usually tie their estimates of the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for global warming to sources such as land use changes, agriculture (including livestock) and transportation. The authors of Livestock’s long shadow took a different approach, aggregating emissions throughout the livestock commodity chain – from feed production (which includes chemical fertilizer production, deforestation for pasture and feed crops, and pasture degradation), through animal production (including enteric fermentation and nitrous oxide emissions from manure) to the carbon dioxide emitted during processing and transportation of animal products.

    Why the EPA chose to ignore the impact of CO2 and US land-use changes, is a puzzle to address.  As the UN report shows, land-use is a major reason why GHG from livestock is high.  When one looks at the example of deforestation of the Amazon (80% of which is attributed to livestock), it’s not hard to see why global land-use, and the whole livestock commodity chain should be a concern.

    Another commenter of the Times article adds “CCF had to go as far as misrepresenting a Bush era EPA report, that were often lower bounds or distortions of staff reports.”

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    updatePlease join the campaign!

    Bill S. 527 gives a free pass for factory farms to pollute the air with CO2, methane, and nitrous oxide without regulation!

    Farm Sanctuary has setup a form to write to your representative in Congress to vote NO on S. 527.  Please take a few minutes to voice your opposition to S. 527 to your network and Congressional representatives!

    Bill S. 527 specifically includes the following text:

    CERTAIN EMISSIONS FROM AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION- No permit shall be issued under a permit program under this title for any carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, water vapor, or methane emissions resulting from biological processes associated with livestock production.

    Keep on the lookout for a petition soon.  Here is my personal response:

    Please oppose Bill S. 527, which exempts livestock production from the Clean Air Act!

    According to a 2006 UN FAO report – 18% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions are due to livestock.  This is more than the emissions from all the cars and planes in the world combined!

    As global meat consumption is predicted to double by 2050, we must take significant measures to minimize livestock production, and its impact.

    In addition – the UN FAO report states animal agriculture is responsible for 37% of anthropogenic methane emissions (20 times more powerful than CO2) and 65% of all nitrous oxide (296 times).

    In light of the rising dangers of global climate change, the expansion of factory farming must not be left unregulated.

    These farms should be expected to INVEST in better farming practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, like every other industrial sector.

    Thank you.

    More…

    NY Times:  Senators Have Beef with ‘Cow Tax’

    Grist: The ‘cow tax’: not now, maybe not ever

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    (2/6/09 – NY Times) Earlier this year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in its Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR), stated that it might tax cows in an effort to curb methane and other greenhouse gasesIt has since backed down from any greenhouse gas regulation on the livestock industry.

    Under the proposal, if a state charged the “presumptive minimum rate” from the EPA, the cow tax would be $175 per dairy cow, $87.50 per head for beef cattle and a little more than $20 per pig,” said American Farm Bureau Federation Director of Regulatory Relations Rick Krause.

    This could have limited the number of cows which farms have, raised the price on meat and dairy products, or put weaker farms out of business.

    Perhaps this wasn’t the perfect proposal, but I would’ve liked to see something, anything done to limit the impact of greenhouse gases from livestock.  While it doesn’t make me glad to see farms struggling or put out of business, it’s like seeing a hummer dealership fail.   Businesses or farms will need to adapt.

    If the government wants people to believe that global warming is as serious of an issue as scientists are telling us, no sector of the economy should be immune to reform and regulation.

    Here are some interesting comments from the Times blog post:

    Sigh…the ranchers don’t have to do anything?

    At least we should make them fund the research into better feed to reduce the methane. I have still yet to hear if grass fed beef emits less methane.

    Mark,  Dallas

    It is such a joke. The cattle industry is so subsidized, and they complain about a little tax. A low quality slab of steak would cost about $100 if the government didn’t subsidize the industry. But of course, healthier foods like vegetables recieve very little subsidy (yea, corn does, and too much, but most other vegetables do not).

    — 0megapart!cle

    Most serious people that are informed about climate change would acknowledge that cows in our agriculture chain do account for a disproportionate amount of emissions. But before we go for a tax, maybe we should just rein in the vast subsidies that the industry now enjoys in the form of grain subsidies, land usage subsidies, etc. This would also of course greatly benefit public health and the accompanying public health expenditures if people ate more spinach and less subsidized beef.

    — akb
    Well, something must be done. Perhaps a meat tax rather than a cow tax would be better. NYTimes yesterday noted that carbon emissions were down due to decreased consumer spending, in turn due to economic downturn.
    — Rr Salamander

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