As I mentioned yesterday, the Environmental Protection Agency recently released a new report attesting to the fact that all of the United States’ collective natural gas systems are no longer the country’s number-one emitter of methane — a so-called greenhouse gas that environmentalists often lament has even more potent global warming effects than carbon. According to the study, the top methane-emitting spot is once again being occupied by the nation’s livestock population:

There’s a new methane champ, says the Environmental Protection Agency,  which found in a new draft report on greenhouse gases that cattle passed the natural-gas industry as the biggest source of U.S. methane emissions in 2012.

The EPA also revised some of its 2011 findings, again turning to cows as the culprit—specifically, enteric fermentation in cattle—in methane emissions, according to the EPA.

The multiple-compartment stomachs in cattle create the methane, resulting in bovine belches. Despite better digestibility in cattle feed over the years, methane emissions from cattle has risen more than 2% since 1990,  said the EPA, because of upward trends in cattle populations.

One reason that vegetarians and vegans cite for their dietary choices — so I’ve been told — is that they want to reduce the carbon footprint of their food intake and help lower the general demand for meat, particularly beef, in the hopes that herd sizes will eventually grow smaller. That general trend, as the EPA points out, is still moving in the upward direction, which I would think implies that the world is eating increasing amounts of meat — but hey, the dietary decision not to partake is absolutely vegetarians’ prerogative.

It sounds like there are some eco-radicals out there, however, who would just love it if that choice wasn’t a personal prerogative. Too bad they’re only designing the federal government’s dietary standards that HHS and the USDA use in a handful of policy decisions and they can’t actually force Americans generally to follow these guidelines — but hey, an environmentalist can dream, right? The WFB reports:

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) is responsible for creating new nutrition standards that are used to create policy at the federal level. The committee will meet for the third time on Friday, and though the group has not yet released an agenda, past meetings have heavily focused on climate change.

During DGAC’s second meeting on Jan. 13, Kate Clancy, a food systems consultant and Senior Fellow in the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture at the University of Minnesota, was brought to speak on “sustainability.”

“After 30 years of waiting, the fact that this committee is addressing sustainability issues brings me a lot of pleasure,” she began. Clancy went on to advocate that Americans should become vegetarians in order to achieve sustainability in the face of “climate change.” …

Clancy said beef production is the “greatest concern.” …

Nelson is DGAC’s work group lead for “Environmental Determinants of Food, Diet, and Health.” She said eating less meat could lower Americans’ carbon footprint.

“Eating fewer animals, but choosing those wisely, and reducing sugar, refined grains, things like that, that diet that we already have stated from the evidence, if we were to get Americans to eat it, would actually have a lower footprint than what we are currently doing,” Nelson said.

Yes, by all means — let’s base our nutrition guidelines, not on actual human nutrition, but on politics.

This is why the federal government should not be in the business of telling people what to eat.