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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 VilsackTom 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 McCarthyOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump official delayed releasing information on cancer-linked chemical in Illinois: watchdog | Advocacy groups say tech giants need to 'step it up' on sustainability |  GOP senator: Raising corporate taxes is a 'non-starter' McCarthy hails 'whole-of-government approach' to climate The Hill's 12:30 Report: CDC identifies 5.8K COVID cases of 66M vaccinated MORE and Energy Secretary Ernest MonizErnest Jeffrey MonizOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Supreme Court declines to hear challenge to Obama marine monument designation | Interior reverses course on tribal ownership of portion of Missouri river | White House climate adviser meets with oil and gas companies Moniz: Texas blackouts show need to protect infrastructure against climate change The Hill's Morning Report - Biden: Back to the future on immigration, Afghanistan, Iran MORE told Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSenate GOP to face off over earmarks next week Biden outreach on infrastructure met with Republican skepticism McConnell seeks to end feud with Trump 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.