Thune introduces bill to limit methane monitoring in South Dakota, nationwide

Dominik Dausch
Farm Forum

Livestock are the nation's top producers of methane and a contributor to global warming, but a new bill from U.S. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from monitoring emissions.

Thune jointly introduced the bill with U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, on Wednesday that would prohibit the EPA from allocating any of the organization's funding toward monitoring methane emissions from cattle.

“Farmers and ranchers – the people who work tirelessly to help feed America and the world – should not be subject to government surveillance as part of a broader effort to implement radical climate policies that would threaten their ability to operate,” Thune said in a news release.

The senator is a member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, a key player in overseeing legislation on agricultural and rural matters.

The Biden administration's Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 included a section called the Methane Emissions Reduction Program, a major change to previous methane policy. The program provides a $20 million provision to the EPA to fund monitoring methane emissions.

It also includes a charge for certain methane-producing facilities that exceed emission thresholds. The charge, which is the first time the federal government has directly levied any fee on greenhouse gas emissions, would start at $900 per metric ton of methane in 2024 and increase to $1,500 per metric ton in 2026, according to a report from the Congressional Research Service.

“This common-sense legislation would protect South Dakota livestock producers and their operations from government snooping," Thune added.

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.

Previous Farm Forum reporting found South Dakota lacks regulation on methane emissions from cattle. Enteric fermentation – the digestive process in livestock – is the greatest source of all greenhouse gas emissions in South Dakota, followed by manure management and crop production, according to a joint study by University of California-Davis, South Dakota Mines and South Dakota State University.

Thune also introduced the Livestock Regulatory Protection Act in April 2021, which would prohibit the EPA from issuing permits for any methane, carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide or water vapor emissions stemming from livestock production.

Dominik Dausch is the agriculture and environment reporter for the Argus Leader and editor of Farm Forum. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook @DomDNP and send news tips to ddausch@gannett.com.