COLUMBUS, Ohio — The impact of methane produced by livestock is debated among researchers, industry, and the public. A federal bill was introduced in an attempt to protect livestock producers from certain government oversight.
According to NASA, cow belching produces more methane than cow flatulence.
"That belching...is a very natural biological function of beef cattle, dairy cattle, and other animals that we call ruminants," said agriculture expert Andy Vance. "These are animals that their digestive systems are designed specifically to be able to let them consume grass and other plants that you and I can't digest."
There are both proponents and opponents of the legislation.
Sen. John Thune (R-SD) introduced the bill.
Thune tweeted, "We need to provide livestock producers with long-term certainty and fight back against #GreenNewDeal-esque policies that target cow methane…"
Meanwhile, Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA) said the legislation would restrict the EPA's authority.
"It's a very small percentage of that methane that comes from livestock production, less than 2%, so when we're talking about the problem of climate and emissions, when we focus on livestock production, we're kind of missing the forest for the trees because it's a really small percentage of emissions as compared to, say, for example, motor vehicle transport, airline travel, any number of other things that are contributing to the problem," Vance said.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, methane accounts for 11% of greenhouse gases, while carbon dioxide accounts for 79%. The EPA reports methane created by livestock accounts for 27% of all methane emissions.
"Yeah, the idea here is that this piece of legislation, if it passes the Senate, would actually tell EPA, you can't regulate this," Vance said.
As of September 7, the bill was in committee.