California dairies find going 'green' expensive

Fresno BeeNovember 7, 2011 

California's new greenhouse rules offer dairies two reasons to be thankful -- an exemption from the limits and a chance to make money by voluntarily cutting back climate-warming methane.

But industry officials say it's unlikely that many dairies will get involved because it's too expensive to build a methane-capturing system.

"It's got to pay for it to work," says Michael Marsh, chief executive officer of Western United Dairymen, representing 1,000 dairies in the state. "We don't think it does."

It's one of the growing pains for California's newly approved cap-and-trade program, which is supposed to drop greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the end of this decade.

This is the nation's first big push to limit climate-warming gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane. The entire country is watching to see how this works out.

California will set a cap, or limit, on greenhouse gases that refineries, power plants and other businesses are allowed to release. If companies can't get under the cap, they can buy allowances from companies that have made extra reductions.

Beyond the allowances, credits or offsets can come from dairies, which are exempt from the cap but encouraged to cut back to create a backlog of reductions. Dairies emit 2% of such gases in the state and regulating them would be too difficult at this point, state officials said.

Read the complete storyat

McClatchy Washington Bureau is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service