Tuesday, December 9, 2008

EPA to tax farm animal ‘exhaust’

It is most likely a sign of noxious things to come: The Environmental Protection Agency is moving toward taxing cows, hogs and possibly other gas-emitting barnyard critters.

The EPA is proposing to impose levies on farms or ranches with more than 25 dairy cows, 50 beef cattle or 200 hogs at the rate of about $175 for each dairy cow, $87.50 per head of beef, and $20 per hog.

It’s a plan farmers say stinks to high heaven, and one has to wonder what it will do to the cost of food. The Supreme Court opened the way to this in 2007 by ruling that all those barnyard burps and farts were legally air pollution and could be taxed – fined, really – accordingly.

The U.S. has an awful lot of cows and pigs, but even more people – and while our contributions to methane and other greenhouse gases may be individually small (spouses’ assertions notwithstanding), I can see a day when the EPA will decide we have to pay twice for last night’s chili dinner.

Seriously, it’s another example of bureaucracy and “science” running amok. As diesel engine emissions are being trimmed down to practically nothing, don’t be surprised if the EPA desk drivers start looking around for something else to hammer us with. Maybe to reduce tire wear so invisible particles of rubber don’t litter the landscape? I could dig a floating truck.

Better yet, all those livestock haulers could hook their cargo up to gas collectors and use it to power their rigs. That would be a practical use for the methane the EPA is putting out …