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Grassley questions EPA on new methane reduction plan

This news story was published on April 19, 2014.
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WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy asking about the administration’s new methane reduction plan released by the President on March 28.

The plan calls on the Department of Agriculture, the EPA, and the Department of Energy to outline a biogas roadmap intended to reduce dairy sector green house gas emissions through voluntary strategies by 25 percent by 2020.

Grassley’s questions for Administrator McCarthy center around the impact the plan has on average U.S. dairy farms, how U.S. reductions impact any world reduction and what other countries are doing to reduce methane gases.

“The intent of this biogas roadmap is seemingly to incentivize voluntary action by producers. But, it’s very hard to forget only a couple of years ago this administration was trying to push Cap and Trade through Congress,” Grassley said. “It’s logical to be skeptical of the administration’s intentions.”

Here’s a copy of the text of the letter.  A signed copy can be found here.

April 17, 2014

The Honorable Gina McCarthy
US Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20460

Dear Administrator McCarthy:

I am writing today in regards to the President’s plan released on March 28, 2014 to reduce methane emissions.  In particular, I have several questions regarding the concept of the forthcoming ‘Biogas Roadmap’ that will outline voluntary strategies to reduce methane emissions.

The President’s Climate Action Plan “Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions” targets a number of industries for methane emission reductions.  Specifically, the plan calls on the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Energy to outline a Biogas Roadmap to reduce dairy sector green house gas emissions through voluntary strategies by 25 percent by 2020.

To help me better understand the validity of methane reduction policies and technologies for the agriculture industry, please answer the following questions:
1)    How many other countries incentivize or require methane reducing protocols for their dairy or livestock industries?
2)    If livestock producers in other countries create more methane emissions in the coming years, will that nullify the effect of U.S. goals to reduce methane emissions?
3)    What percent of average size dairy farms would need to install anaerobic digesters to create a 25 percent reduction in methane emissions by 2020?
4)    What are the typical costs and payoff time for an anaerobic digester on an average size dairy or livestock farm?
Thank you in advance for your attention to these questions. Please respond by numbering your answers in accordance with my questions.


Charles E. Grassley

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