Stranger than fiction: California combats global warming by cracking down on... cows

We’ve been making jokes about this particular subject for years because it seems like such a perfect example of parody when it comes to climate change initiatives from the Left. If you want to cut down on methane and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere you should probably put corks in the butts of all the cows. Well… that will teach us to give liberals new ideas I suppose. California isn’t literally mandating corks, but it’s not far off from it. The Golden State will now be regulating “emissions” from cows. (Associated Press)

California is taking its fight against global warming to the farm.

The nation’s leading agricultural state is now targeting greenhouse gases produced by dairy cows and other livestock.

Despite strong opposition from farmers, Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation in September that for the first time regulates heat-trapping gases from livestock operations and landfills.

Cattle and other farm animals are major sources of methane, a greenhouse gas many times more potent than carbon dioxide as a heat-trapping gas. Methane is released when they belch, pass gas and make manure.

There’s really not a scientific way to describe bovine belching, passing gas and producing manure which doesn’t immediately devolve to tenth grade locker room level. Yes folks, the cows are farting and pooping too much and that produces methane.

Since corks aren’t an option what do they propose the farmers do about it? They’ll be using “digesters” in order to comply with the regulations after they take effect in eight years. These are tanks where the manure can be deposited to decay, capturing the methane and burning it to create electricity. (At least in theory.) Here’s what one of those looks like and how it works. (


For most farms, manure is a pungent problem. At Homestead Dairy, it smells like money.

The family-run American farm invested in a biogas recovery system which transforms cow poo and other waste into electricity.

Enough electricity, in fact, to power 1,000 homes, a service which the local utility company pays for handsomely.

But that’s just a side benefit.

“It works economically, but one of the main reasons we did it was to try to help take care of the odor control for the neighbors,” said Floyd Houin, whose family has owned the farm in Plymouth, Indiana since 1945.

“The land’s important to us also because we produce a crop for feeding cows. So we want to do everything we can to take care of the land and the water. We drink the same water as everyone else.”

That all sounds great in theory, but California is not putting up sufficient money to put one of these digesters on every farm in the state. They’re not cheap, so that means what amounts to an unfunded mandate will wind up costing some of the farmers a ton of money at a time when milk prices remain low, there’s a massive drought making ranching difficult and profits are slim at best. And all of this negative impact on the entire dairy industry will go to reduce (not eliminate) the gaseous emissions from animals in one state. The total impact on the environment is probably too small to even be measured.

Where does that discussion about California seceding from the union stand again? It might be worth a second look.