Friday, March 27, 2009

U. S. Department of Snickers, Whistles and Sneezes

Last summer, the EPA sought public comment regarding the possible regulation of greenhouse gases.

To proceed, the EPA would have to find that greenhouse gases endanger public health and should be classified a pollutant. If such a finding were made, other provisions of the Clean Air Act would be activated, resulting in a potential impact upon, among others, agriculture. Specifically targeted would be the production of dairy cattle, beef cattle and swine.

The potential cost of this regulation is estimated to be $175.00 per dairy cow, $87.50 per beef cow, and $20.00 per hog—a cost initially to be paid by the producer but ultimately borne by the consumer.

Rather than give serious consideration to a flatulence-tax on livestock production, it may behoove us to look at some of the possible ramifications of such a proposal. (the puns in that last sentence cost me almost nothing!) Our experience with the odiferous winds forever wafting from Washington D.C. have prepared us to anticipate a likely (hasty) expansion of this revenue generating scheme—this gas tax.

I can see it now—scientists carefully measuring the emissions of a chicken’s cluck or a pig’s squeal, as bureaucrats look on in gleeful anticipation of the results. Beware when those same onlookers turn their gaze on you and me, and begin considering how much they might be able to collect for a hiccup, a yawn or a gasp. I suppose they will take a particular interest in bad breath, and can only imagine their excitement when they realize they might be able to institute double-taxation on those of us who enjoy a beef burrito from time to time!

Let’s not forget about the family pets! Those of us with a dog or cat will be expected to do our part to pay for our furry friend’s lack of control. And don’t think the EPA will overlook those bubbles that occasionally break at the surface of the goldfish bowl, either.

In 2003, a similar proposal was presented in New Zealand. There, farmers protested by mailing packages of cattle and sheep manure to lawmakers.

Before the U. S. Department of Snickers, Whistles and Sneezes becomes a reality, we should ask ourselves how we might stem these proposed changes. We could follow the lead of the farmers in New Zealand and mail parcels of dung to our legislators. I’m certain it’s not illegal—I personally get loads of it from their end whenever an election approaches.

We might call on experts in animal husbandry to develop more restrained breeds, or work to improve the quality of animal feeds to reduce the potential for exhaust. The folks up in Cuyahoga County have already started addressing the air quality problem by opening Cow-Check emissions testing stations. Or is that Car-Check? I’m not sure.

Why not work toward capturing this presently wasted form of energy, much being methane. We could employ the methane to reduce our reliance on foreign oil, perhaps collecting it in convenient, consumer-ready packets that could immediately be put to productive use, say, to power our lawnmowers.

Watch for publication of the EPA’s findings, in order that you may make well-timed investment purchases to rejuvenate your recently decimated portfolio. I hear that work is being done to develop Bovine Beano, and Toot-o-Meter, Inc. has already ramped up production.

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