Got milk? Cows and environmental law

30 Apr 2010

Two recent events have me shaking my head.  First of all, a recent peer-reviewed study from the University of California has concluded that less consumption of meat and dairy products won’t have a major affect on combating climate change.  Why was this even necessary?  Well, there was a 2006 United Nations report called “Livestock’s Long Shadow” which, according to Professor Mitloehner who authored the Cal study, overstates livestock’s role in greenhouse gas emissions.  In fact, the UN study apparently makes livestock a bigger air polluter than the transportation sector!

Right on the heels of that report, the National Milk Producers Federation is developing a farm self reporting template regarding storage capacity. Why? Because the EPA is counting the milk as well as fuel oil, diesel and gasoline to determine when a farm needs to have a Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure plan!  These SPCC plans are required for those who store more than 1,320 gallons of oil in above ground tanks that might spill into surface waters.  As milk contains animal fats, the EPA decided that they had to include milk in that storage calculation, subjecting many many more farms to this regulation than would ordinarily be the case.  A partial regulatory fix was proposed last year, http://www.epa.gov/emergencies/content/ spcc/spccjan09milk.htm but it appears to be languishing as the EPA drives up the cost of spilled milk.

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