Economy & Budget

The Cow Tax Causing a Stink

Last year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR), proposing new rules for greenhouse gas emissions. If passed the new rules would mean that the EPA would have sole power to regulate greenhouse gases and define what constitutes as a greenhouse gas.

Under the proposed rule businesses that use fossil fuels would be regulated, products and buildings would have requirements and even farm animals would be subject to taxes.

So far this new rule — which would have enormously negative effects on our economy — has sat on the back burner. But under an Obama administration, with the environment a hot button issue, the new rules could become a reality. That’s why some in Congress are taking steps to try and stop action before it happens.

H.R. 391 is a bill being spearheaded by Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). This amendment to The Clean Air Act would provide that greenhouse gases are not subject to regulation by the EPA.

Blackburn is concerned that the rules proposed by the ANPR would have devastating effects on all taxpayers, but farmers in particular. Blackburn made it clear that “everybody would be subject to this.”

Since cows produce a certain amount of methane. And methane would be regulated under The Clean Air Act, then cows and pigs would be subject to a tax. Blackburn said projections she has seen suggest that for dairy cows the tax would be about $175 a head, $20 per pig and $88 for beef stock.

Plus, a tax on farmers would also mean something to consumers. Blackburn said, “the cost of milk is going to go up and all of your dairy products.”

This tax would also mean fewer jobs, because according to Blackburn, “they are going to be putting more money into compliance and regulation rather than putting that money into jobs creation.” It seems counterintuitive, especially at a time when the economy is in a job crisis already.

The Heritage Foundation has done research into the cost of these regulations. According to an article by Senior Policy Analyst Ben Lieberman, “The impact on the overall economy, as measured by gross domestic product (GDP), is substantial. The cumulative GDP losses for 2010 to 2029 approach $7 trillion. Single-year losses exceed $600 billion in 2029, more than $5,000 per household.”

Lieberman believes that this could very well happen under Obama and that the cost could reach “well into the trillions of dollars while destroying millions of jobs in the manufacturing sector.”

“Everybody is for clean air and clean water,” said Rep. Blackburn, but you have to look at “what the cost is going to be.” Cost is just one of the reasons she is pushing for this amendment, along with 33 other House Republicans.

But along with this, they believe no matter the party lines that greenhouse gas regulation should not be put in the hands of a bureaucratic organization like the EPA. Blackburn said it should be “one of those decisions that members of the House should decided…it should be something that is debated and discussed on the floor of the House and then we should be arriving at a decision based on the input of the members and the will of the majority of the body.”

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