California's New Cow Fart Regulations Totally Stink

New law aims to reduce bovine flatulance, but will the cows obey?


Caro / Frank Sorge/Newscom

Livestock are responsible for roughly 15 percent of the world's greenhouse gases, but if you think getting people to stop driving their cars or using electricity is a difficult task, good luck preventing cows from farting.

California is going to try.

"This bill curbs these dangerous pollutants and thereby protects public health and slows climate change," said Gov. Jerry Brown said in a statement when he signed the bill in September, against the wishes of the state's farmers.

The law won't stop cows from farting, of course, because cows are notoriously disrespectful of human-passed laws. Instead, it will make life more difficult for dairy farmers in California.

Dairy farms will be required to reduce methane emissions to 40 percent below their 2013 levels by 2030. The state will spend $50 million help offset the cost of so-called "dairy digesters," which are intended to capture methane spewed from cows and convert it into electricity. After that, the state's Air Resources Board will have the authority to set whatever regulations they deem necessary to reach the stated goal.

Cow farts—or "bovine entric fermentation" if you want to sound smart—pump a lot of methane into the environment. A single cow can produce up to 130 gallons of methane in a single day (even that's not as bad as what dinosaur farts could do), and methane is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

Even if California were to find a way to stop cows from farting—or, more likely, if it were to regulate all its dairy farms out of existence—there would be a miniscule impact on global methane levels. California isn't even the leading producer of agricultural methane in the United States, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

On a global scale, the tiny microbes that grow on the roots of rice plants produce 30 percent of all agricultural methane on Earth.

California's not the first to target cows in an effort to rein-in global warming. Some ethical vegetarian groups have allied with global warming activists to call for reducing the number of cows in Africa.

The attack on dairy cows is part of a broader effort to reduce California's greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. Doing that means giving a lot more power ot the state's Air Resources Board, which now finds itself in the business of regulating what comes out of bovine buttocks. According to an Associated Press report this week, the board is hoping California's proposal will be a model for other states to follow.

NEXT: Record Temperatures and Record Grain Yields

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  1. Does this mean we’re no longer going to get those godawful stupid “happy california cows” milk commercials?

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    2. Of course they are happy cows. The more you fart, the better you feel, let’s have beans at every meal.


    3. What!! This is bullshit!

  2. First they came for the cow farts….

    1. “Cows with guns” …

      They won’t take it laying down 🙂

  3. because cows are notoriously disrespectful of human-passed laws

    A.K.A: The notorious M.O.O.

  4. Cows pass gas. Proggy bureaucrats pass laws. Is there a discernible difference? I think not.

    1. Cows still produce a useful product in the end.

      1. ^This^

        1. Y’all aren’t being sufficiently trustful of Government-Almighty-directed technological innovation! In just about no time flat, we will be putting methane after-burners and aerodynamic wings on cows, and riding them around! Airborne transportation then in addition to milk, meat, and hides? What is there to lose?!?!

          1. Maybe on 2nd thought, adding yet another human-imperialistic burden onto over-burdened, long-suffering cows would lead to a cow revolution? Beware! Maybe to a cow revolt like this?

  5. California Legislators: “You know where we’re bringing in way too much money? The dairy and beef industry. Should we cut taxes? Nah, we’ll just drive them out of the state or out of business.”

  6. CARB is one of the worst gov’t bureaucracies currently in existence. They pretty much have dictator powers over anything they want.

    Like with the rest of central california, they will regulate their businesses out of existence, other states will prosper, and they will blame the “Republican” areas of CA for taking more money in welfare caused by the loss of said job.

    Remember MTBE? Yeah these fucks poisoned drinking water, just like the EPA earlier this year, but progs give a pass to every government caused disaster. Then they have the gall to claim if you wanted to get rid of the EPA or the CARB, it’s because you hate the environment. But they have the right intentions.

  7. Would it not be cheaper to just give the cows Gas-X?

  8. Poor people don’t deserve affordable milk, cheese, or beef.

    Let them eat kale.

  9. Dairy farms will be required to reduce methane emissions to 40 percent below their 2013 levels by 2030. The state will spend $50 million help offset the cost of so-called “dairy digesters,” which are intended to capture methane spewed from cows and convert it into electricity.

    Magic wand not included.

    1. if this already existed and it were profitable, wouldn’t companies already being doing it?

      Progs simply cannot fathom that statement. I’ve seen their heads explode over it. How do they believe all of the technology their asses take for granted came about?

      1. Evil robber barons convinced poor and ignorant people to believe it was good for them.

    2. The cows will have to wait. The magic wand is currently still being used to conjure micro-stamping.

  10. I would seriously love to see Califiornia exit the union and watch how fast they’re economic illiteracy destroys their state now that they’d no longer have federal largesse to enable their stupidity.

      1. Better linguistic illiteracy than economic


      2. Better linguistic illiteracy than economic


        1. We need some common sense squirrel regulation.

          1. TRIGGERED!

    1. The new Independent Republic of Calizuela. May it be a beacon to the rest of the continent of how not to run an economy.

    2. Here’s the plan:

      California exits the Union and becomes its own country
      Utah and Arizona divert the Colorado River
      California quickly realizes the error of its ways as 60% of the state becomes drier than the Moon
      Utah and Arizona demand an unconditional surrender before California gets another drop of H20
      California meekly surrenders

    3. Give it back to Mexico.

      1. Major reduction in illegal immigration to the US!

      2. What would Mexico want with the place? It’s probably a bigger advantage to Mexico for California to continue as part of the US.

  11. Some ethical vegetarian groups have allied with global warming activists to call for reducing the number of cows in Africa.

    Wonder Twin powers activate! Form of… an alliance of do-gooder nannies bent on keeping the stupid Africans in their place.

    1. … that brings to mind that scene of Aquaman bitch-slapping the wonder-twins expies at Cadmus.

      Definately a job for Aquaman.

      1. *definitely

        Would you spell “infinitely” wrong? Probably not.

        1. Would you spell “infinitely” wrong?


          *clicks on list*

          *clicks correct all*

          Not anymore

          1. It’s the fault of our idiotic education system that got on this “see and spell” and “whole word” spelling kick once upon a time. Instead of teaching kids that words are composed of divisible parts and how to identify them to simplify spelling, they insisted that the kids should be able to spell the word completely based on the sounds that comprise the spoken form.

            It was a disaster, as so much of everything else our education system has proposed over the many years.

            My wife’s coworker was terrified that public education was going to come to an end because Donald Trump has suggested putting an end to the Department of Education. This is a highly educated woman with a postgraduate degree who said that. Typical proggie, of course. If she knew what the DoE is actually responsible for, she might have a different opinion about it.

            1. In my case, it’s more of “I don’t proofread internet comments” and “when typing fast, the phonetic beats the rational to my fingertips.” It may be a regional accent, but “infinite” “definite” and “finite” do not sound like they have the same root in upstate New York. (It sounds “in fin it”, “deaf in ate” and “fye-night”). Hense my commonly committed error with vowels.

              Also, the DoE needs to burn.

              1. *sorry that was supposed to be “deaf in at” not “deaf in ate”.

              2. My point was that children have been taught to focus on phonetic recreation of words. Historically, children were taught Latin and Greek stems and how to recognize and compose words with them. At some point “classic” education was deemed unworthy and a series of unending reforms have brought us to today. Your first inclination would have been to reach for composition of stems memorized by rote, and your second for phonetic (for lots of English words that cannot be constructed as such).

                I’ll also note my distaste with the current trend of “it doesn’t matter, you know what I meant.” I consider this to be intentional subversion by the powers that be. Proggies like very much that they can convince people that there’s a distinction between “prescriptive” and “descriptive” grammar and spelling. Getting people to be more accepting of mistakes in those basic orthographic constructs of language is an excellent foundation for getting them to accept changing definitions for political reasons (AKA Newspeak). If anything goes, then my generation’s refrain of “check the dictionary” whenever a word was misused has been twisted such that even mistaken uses, are legitimate. It therefore becomes easy for ivory-tower fuckheads in academia to invent new bullshit and disseminate it quickly (note the rapid acquisition of “microaggression”). Conservatives are far less adept at this sort of linguistic buttfuckery, so the proggies can push a culture war through language itself.

                1. Sight words and phonics are not the same thing.

                  Sight words are even worse. Those are the rote memorization of patterns as if they were whole symbols that simply dooms the brain to failure. The reason sight words are a bad idea is because the letters lose meaning and it forces the learner to rely on an ever crowded set of pre-memorized icons ie replacing the alphabet with words and removing the utility that is the alphabet.

                  Phonetic deconstruction at least allows for complete literacy, even if one or two instinctive errors come into play. It’s easier to learn the exceptions, even with English and it’s collection of oddities collected from other languages.

                  In what century was the greco-latin root analysis taught as the basis of English literacy? There may be a large number of mutant french loanwords from the Norman Invasion, but the affixes are not as vital as you make them out to be.

                  PS we’re expending a lot of e-ink on a typographical error.

                  1. Heh, not really a “typo” either given the definition of that word.

                    Something sparked in me to want to have the conversation with intelligent people in the Reason commentariat. Since threads never really last very long and articles are always forthcoming, it is difficult to know which threads will stick around long enough to have one, and there seems to be rarely an opportunity to discuss this subject since, as far as I’m aware, it doesn’t come up from the Reason authors.

                    As far as e-ink is concerned, I type at approximately 100 WPM and have already expended a lot of thought over time on this subject, so it’s mostly just a rapid dissemination of ideas at this point in order to see what others think.

                    There is a reason that I lean towards hating proggies mare than conservatives, despite being loathsome towards both. Proggies are adept deceivers who use some of the most clever tricks to try to mold society to their liking and it bothers me greatly.

                    1. *mare

                      Those letters are one keystroke apart on my keyboard. 😉

                    2. I took typing in high school.

                      I started the class at 14 WPM. I finished at 15WPM.

                      What actually increased my speed was writing fiction. Typing for the sake of transcription was utterly uninteresting. I doubt I’m anywhere near 100wpm.

  12. How is this going to work, a gas mask on the back end of Bessie?

    1. No, the front end. I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that the majority of ruminant-generated methane is emitted via the mouth. So we need to be more worried about burps than farts.

  13. Misleading headline – cattle farts don’t stink.

  14. I suspect that they could have a larger effect on the amount of meat (and everything else) produced in California by continuing to tinker with California’s complex water law, a source of endless political disputes about who has rights and who’s subsidizing whom for the entire time the territory, Republic, and state has been settled.

  15. “Honey, you think that was bad? It’s nothing compared to what dinosaur farts could do.” I’m going to have to try that excuse some day. Probably tonight.

  16. So, they’re outsourcing their beef/dairy production, just like they did with electricity generation?

  17. I do my part to reduce methane. I eat all sorts of livestock. And I honestly think that is the real intent here. Stop horrible people that consume animals or animal products.

    1. That’s pretty much my take on it. When it comes down to brass tacks, progressives don’t like it when people live well.

  18. After that, the state’s Air Resources Board will have the authority to set whatever regulations they deem necessary to reach the stated goal.

    Here it comes: the Cow Fart Tax! Which will of course require the hiring of 100,000 new state employees to monitor and enforce.

    1. And a few Top Men. Top Persons? Top Genderless Right Thinkers? Someone help me with the correct speech here.

      1. Verically Enfranchised Comrades?

  19. When it is discovered that cows, among other animals defy such legislation, what might California do? Perhaps let loose the CHP, or some other offshoot of California law enforcement?

  20. Hate to let facts get in the way of a good story, but most of the methane released by cows comes from burping, not farting.

  21. The ‘30% of all agricultural methane’ statement is incorrect, the link says 17%.

    “Rice cultivation accounts for 17 percent of the anthropogenically produced methane.”

    “Being that wetlands and rice paddies combined are responsible for more than 30 percent of global methane production, this could be an extremely valuable model.”

    The link below also says ‘in the United States, fossil fuel-based energy is responsible for about 80% of total greenhouse gas emissions as compared to about 6% from animal agriculture (estimates from the World Resources Institute and Pitesky et al. 2009),’ thus there is less to be gained in CA from this future technology, assuming it is successful, than in other parts of the world.

  22. This article’s title and the inference to cow farts is incorrect. The dairy digesters mentioned in the article are for storing bovine excrement and capturing the methane released when said excrement is broken down.

    Now if California were spending $50 million on bovine Beano, then there is a chance that Flatulence Originating Methane (“FOM”, in the industry) could be controlled.

    Please do not tell California you can give Beaeno to cows.

  23. An attack on dairy farms is an attack on America itself. Bomb California,now!

  24. Beano for cows, problem solved.

  25. …strap a methane fueled generator to the cow ass, add an integrated wireless access point/ cellular modem and we can fix the rural lack of Internet access problem, too.

  26. It would be absurd to try to tell cows to stop producing methane. The article says that this law doesn’t try to do that. Is it rational to criticize the law for a measure it doesn’t include?

    Instead it includes a measure that could actually work: collecting the cows’ methane emissions.

    This system may be a nuisance, and will cost some money. Before you criticize it, look at the alternative.

    Global heating and (through the associated drought) could wipe out a large fraction of California’s agriculture. Heating has already killed 1/3 of the trees in the state. Other forms of damage are spread world-wide.

    Collecting cow farts is a minor inconvenience if it avoids a disaster that is already causing floods, droughts, crop failures and wars. Rather than gleefully imagining that cattle farmers will move to states where they can contribute unhampered to frying our planet, how about imagining that we spread the methane collection to other states, then avoid disaster through this measure along with others?

    Oh, there’s another possible solution: stop producing beef and dairy products. Would you like that better?

    1. Mr. Stallman, I bet you’re a fun guy at a cocktail party! But personally I would much prefer to live in a world with angus beef and milkshakes, even if it makes the seas rise by four inches and the average temperature of the globe escalate by 1 degree over the next 100 years. You haven’t proven how taking away my burgers and milkshakes will change a damn thing. But as a libertarian, I will allow you to live in my world and eat tofu and kale and drink soy milk to your heart’s content. Meanwhile, please grow a sense of humor!

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