Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Punishing cow emissions - Loving alcohol emissions


On September 19, 2016, California’s governor, Jerry Brown, signed into law America’s toughest restrictions on “super pollutants” including black carbon, fluorinated gases and methane. Per the press release from Governor Brown’s office, if such legislation is followed worldwide “…these acts would help cut the projected rate of global warming in half by 2050.” In reading through this legislation (SB 1383) I found this head-slapper:
Enteric emissions reductions shall be achieved only through incentive-based mechanisms until the state board, in consultation with the department, determines that a cost-effective, considering the impact on animal productivity, and scientifically proven method of reducing enteric emissions is available and that adoption of the enteric emissions reduction method would not damage animal health, public health, or consumer acceptance. Voluntary enteric emissions reductions may be used toward satisfying the goals of this chapter.
This aspect of the law, poorly written as it is, was aimed specifically at dairy and livestock operations; in which the State of California desires to reduce the methane emitted by cattle via belching and flatulence. Governor Brown, clearly, is so concerned about global warming that he is willing to sign legislation in which a section is targeted at regulating the bodily functions of cattle. However, if enteric fermentation is such a concern, in California, then why isn’t alcoholic fermentation even more so? Of course, the answer is simple in that environmentalists, such as Governor Brown, are hypocrites.

In 2015, California shipped 275.7 million cases of wine within the U.S. and abroad. California is, by far and away, the largest wine producing state in the U.S.; which is great for the California economy considering the estimated retail value of California wine shipped within the U.S. alone, in 2015, was $31.9 billion.

On the flipside, does this not also mean that California’s wine producers are emitting significant amounts of pollution? Carbon dioxide, after all, is a by-product of alcoholic fermentation; and the EPA has designated carbon dioxide to be a pollutant and a dangerous greenhouse gas driving climate change. Having toured wineries in Napa Valley, I can assure you the ones I visited had no equipment capturing their carbon dioxide emissions. If Governor Brown is willing to sign legislation that literally drills down to the concept of reducing enteric emissions from cattle, then why not pass legislation requiring every California winery (and brewery for that matter) to capture carbon dioxide emissions before being released into the environment? Sounds expensive and controversial; but isn’t the future of the planet at stake here?

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