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by John Karnish
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cowlw1.jpg (50092 bytes)In the past couple of years, the EPA has conducted research on cow belching and the methane pollution created in the process. As you might expect, not everyone took the research seriously. Rep. Henry Bonilla expressed his views in the opinion page of the Pecos Enterprise, a daily newspaper in Reeves County, Texas. Rep. Bonilla feels the organization is going too far. "Over the last 25 years, we Americans have greatly reduced the amount of pollution in our air. The difference is amazing. That, however, is not good enough for the EPA. It seems like the political appointees at the EPA won't be satisfied until every county in America can pass the white glove test."

Rep. Bonilla believes that cow belching research is evidence that the EPA is taking things too far. He attacks the agency for having an "allergy to common sense." The pollution coming in from Mexico far outweighs the methane pollution caused by Texas cattle. Unfortunately, Bonilla fails to see that methane pollution caused by livestock is a problem in other areas, which aren’t as badly affected by Mexico. Even if our neighboring countries are destroying the environment, shouldn’t we examine all possible solutions to protect it?

The Information Unit on Climate Change takes methane pollution caused by cattle much more seriously. They state that methane is the second most dangerous gas resulting from humans, which contributes to the greenhouse effect. Scientist now believe that methane gas is responsible for 15% of "man induced climate change." There are other sources that contribute to the amount of methane being exposed to atmosphere. Livestock contributes to 15-20% of the methane. The Information Unit also states that livestock farming results in more methane pollution than "fossil fuel production, biomass burning, landfills and domestic sewage."

Well, cattle belching is a serious problem but what can be done? The Information Unit on Climate Change says that new technology can reduce the amount of methane a cow releases, while increases the amount of milk and meat. Studies have shown if a cow’s diet is supplemented with a substance like urea, a form of ammonia, the amount of methane produced by each animal is greatly lowered. The ammonia assists in digestion. It is during this process that a cow produces methane.

Klaas Van Der Hoek suggests that methane can be reduced by effectively managing manure. When the waste is stored as a liquid in a pit or lagoon, it decomposes anaerobically, giving off much more methane. When it is handled as a solid, the amount of methane produced is greatly lowered. Animal manure can also be used effectively in biogas plants to make electricity and heat. Using the waste in this manner produces very little methane.

Although many argue that there are greater problems than cow belching, maybe it is time we take it a little more seriously. Cow belching is a serious threat to the environment and steps should be taken to reduce the amount of methane each belch produces. <AHEM> meat industry..for overproducing beyond America's meat eating needs!

Pecos Enterprise.http://www.pecos.net/news/arch97/022897o.htm