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 James 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 McCarthyRegina (Gina) McCarthyOvernight Energy: EPA plans to restrict use of science data for regs | Pruitt's Italy trip cost more than K | Perry insists he's staying at Energy Cost of Pruitt's Italy trip rises above ,000 Senators question whether EPA security contract is conflict of interest MORE and Energy Secretary Ernest MonizErnest Jeffrey MonizOvernight Energy: Pruitt defends first-class travel | Watchdog says contractor charged Energy Department for spas, lobbying | Experts see eased EPA enforcement under Trump Obama energy secretary named to utility giant’s board Give Trump new nukes and we are that much closer to war MORE told Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSpending package extends FAA through September Senate passes controversial online sex trafficking bill Co-founder of WhatsApp: 'It is time. #deletefacebook' 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.

“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.