California’s Governor Jerry Brown (D) has just signed the first legislation in U.S. history to control cow flatulence as his state's economy suffers from anemic growth and high taxes. The new law would target 'short-lived' greenhouse-gas emissions from dairy cows and landfills.

The new law is part of Brown’s ongoing crusade to fight climate change. Meanwhile, voters are wondering what he is doing to fix the state’s lackluster economy now that this legislative session has officially ended.

The short-lived emissions targeted include methane, refrigerant gases (HFCs), diesel tractor emissions (black carbon), etc.

Methane is believed to have a global warming potential 23 times higher than carbon dioxide (CO2). Most modern landfills have vents that capture methane emissions and use the gas to generate electricity or to burn raw sewage.

'We've got to build our ark'

"When Noah wanted to build his ark,” Brown said at the signing ceremony, “Most of the people laughed at him. We've got to build our ark, too, by stopping [these] dangerous pollutants.” Brown said Senate Bill 1383 will protect people’s health and their lungs, though any correlation to poor health is still being investigated.

Part of the problem, he says, is how cow farts and manure impact the Environment. Under the new law, “farmers have to cut methane emissions to 40 percent below 2013 levels by 2030.” Because this is California, farmers can get assistance from the $50 million brought in under its stringent carbon tax.

Dairy farmers can use the money to buy technology that burns methane and sell the excess electricity back to power companies.

All of which is going to take time as they acclimate to being mini-electrical power generators as well as milk and butter producers.

Big government meets big green

Called “methane digesters,” this type of technology is very expensive and will be funded by money from the state’s carbon tax and other fees.

It also penalizes one industry (dairy) at the expense of another (agriculture), which the latter emits far more methane per acreage.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) says regulating bovine flatulence can be done by reducing the cows' belching and breaking wind. Others say it’s a way to make favored donors wealthier by rewarding ‘big green.’Environmental activists have also had a hand in writing the new regulations and hope that tackling these short-lived gases will avert warming long enough for new technologies to be created. The bill was passed entirely by state Democrats.The current law, however, wasn’t good enough for some anti-fossil fuel activists, who demanded stronger language, more ambitious goals, and not postponing mandates until 2024, which gives farmers time to put in place the new technology.

'Direct assault'

The National Federation of Independent Businesses wrote in a statement that the “mandated 40 percent reduction in methane and 50 percent reduction in [man-made] black carbon gas” was a “direct assault on California’s dairy industry and will hurt manufacturing.”The new cow and landfill emission law is also tied to a spending bill for the dairy industry and landfill owners that total $90 million. California Republicans have denounced the new measures as being onerous, saying they will hurt farmers and other businesses.This new legislation is part of the governor’s far-reaching climate change fight that scientists say will do little to avert warming.

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