Feds: No plans to regulate agricultural methane emissions

Three cabinet-level officials are assuring Republican senators that the Obama administration has no plans to regulate methane emissions from the agricultural sector or livestock.

Agriculture Secretary Tom VilsackThomas J. VilsackUSDA: Farm-to-school programs help schools serve healthier meals OVERNIGHT MONEY: House poised to pass debt-ceiling bill MORE, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthyGina McCarthyThe media’s tactics to silence science at Trump’s EPA Overnight Energy: EPA releases ozone findings | Lawmakers come out against Perry grid plan | Kids sue Trump on climate change Congress must come to terms on climate change regulation MORE and Energy Secretary Ernest MonizErnest Jeffrey MonizStop wasting tax dollars on failing nuclear projects Trump vows hard line with Iran, setting stage to decertify deal Renewing America’s commitment to nuclear energy MORE told Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Overnight Health Care: 3.6M signed up for ObamaCare in first month | Ryan pledges 'entitlement reform' next year | Dems push for more money to fight opioids Dems push for more money for opioid fight MORE (R-S.D.) and his colleagues in a letter that the Obama administration’s strategy to reduce methane emissions will seek only voluntary reduction measures from agriculture.

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“Voluntary, partnership-based approaches to address emissions from agricultural sources have been shown to be effective, which is why the approaches for agriculture expand efforts to optimize and deploy waste-to-energy technologies and enhance manure management,” the officials wrote Friday.

The administration announced its strategy in March to cut down on methane, a potent greenhouse gas. While it may lead to new standards for natural gas drilling, it specifically called only for voluntary measures to reduce methane output from agriculture.

Nonetheless, Thune and 15 of his colleagues wrote to Vilsack, McCarthy and Moniz shortly after the strategy was unveiled to urge them not to add agricultural regulations.

“It is our hope that the EPA, USDA and DOE will work with Congress and the agriculture industry to outline voluntary measures that can be taken to reduce emissions without imposing heavy-handed regulations on farms across America,” Thune wrote.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) sent his own letter expressing concerns about the cost of mandatory equipment to limit emissions.