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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 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) McCarthyFormer EPA chiefs endorse Biden, criticize agency direction under Trump OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Energy Department proposes showerhead standards rollback after Trump complaints | Interior memo scaling back bird protections is 'contrary to law,' court rules | Former EPA chiefs call for agency 'reset' Former EPA chiefs call for agency 'reset' MORE and Energy Secretary Ernest MonizErnest Jeffrey MonizOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Dems press Trump consumer safety nominee on chemical issues | Lawmakers weigh how to help struggling energy industry | 180 Democrats ask House leadership for clean energy assistance Lawmakers weigh how to help struggling energy industry The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Surgeon General stresses need to invest much more in public health infrastructure, during and after COVID-19; Fauci hopeful vaccine could be deployed in December MORE told Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSenate GOP eyes Oct. 26 for confirming Barrett to Supreme Court GOP noncommittal about vote on potential Trump-Pelosi coronavirus deal Biden owes us an answer on court-packing 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.