Recent Press Releases

Thune Denounces Environment Protection Agency Proposed Findings

Announcement Reinforces Need for Thune/Schumer Cow Tax Ban

April 17, 2009

Washington, D.C. —  Senator John Thune today criticized an announcement from Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson that could result in the implementation of new regulations on carbon dioxide and methane gases, including the creation of a "cow tax." EPA's proposed endangerment findings could result in further regulation of carbon dioxide and methane, as well as nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride.

"This is the first step in a slippery slope that could result in implementation of a tax on all CO2 emissions," said Thune. "The EPA has opened the door by starting with automobiles, but the reality is that this is the first step in a process that could result in sweeping regulations that could result in a tax on naturally occurring emissions from livestock. If the Administration wants to implement climate change legislation, it should work with Congress to pass bi-partisan legislation rather than finding a way around working through the legislative process.

"The Clean Air Act was written to curb pollution from the smokestack industries, not to regulate the livestock industry. I encourage South Dakotans to submit comments during this 60-day comment period, but unless there's strong public opposition, I have no doubt that the EPA findings will result in actions that get us one step closer to policies that will have a significant impact on all Americans, including the taxation on emissions from livestock."

In March, Senator Thune and Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) introduced S. 527, a bipartisan bill that would prevent the government from imposing a "cow tax" on farmers and ranchers across the country. Late last year, the EPA discussed regulating greenhouse gases in its Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking under the 1990 amendments to the Clean Air Act, which could include requiring farmers to purchase expensive permits. Although the EPA did not propose moving forward with the permits, Thune and Schumer are taking preventive action to protect America's farmers. The "cow tax" would cost South Dakota farmers an estimated $367 million -- or $175 per dairy cow, $87.50 per beef cow, and $20 per hog -- fees that would be extremely detrimental to the livestock industry and family farmers.

In 2007, the Supreme Court ruled in Massachusetts, et al v EPA that the EPA cannot categorically refuse to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions under the Clean Air Act, a law that defines EPA's responsibilities for protecting and improving the nation's air quality. On July 30, 2008, in response to this, the EPA began to consider the implications of defining greenhouse gases as an air pollutant by issuing an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. This is typically a precursor to a proposed rule and the first in several steps in creating a new regulation. As a part of this process, the U.S. Department of Agriculture responded to the Notice with a comment that defining greenhouse gases as air pollution may require the EPA to issue permits to farmers for their livestock. Currently, permits for other pollutants cost roughly $45 per ton, though that level can change. Title V of the Clean Air Act requires that permits be obtained by most large and small sources of air pollution.

Today's proposed endangerment finding regarding greenhouse gases by the EPA is the next step in the regulation of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Comments on this proposed action must be received on or before 60 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register. Comments should be identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2009-0171, by one of the following methods:
  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: Follow the online instructions for submitting comments.
  • E-mail:
  • Fax: (202) 566-1741.
  • Mail: Environmental Protection Agency, EPA Docket Center (EPA/DC), Mailcode 6102T, Attention Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2008-0508, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20460.
  • Hand Delivery: EPA Docket Center, Public Reading Room, EPA West Building, Room 3334, 1301 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20004. Such deliveries are only accepted during the Air Docket's normal hours of operation, and special arrangements should be made for deliveries of boxed information.
S. 527 is cosponsored by Senators John Barrasso (R-WY), Kit Bond (R-MO), Sam Brownback (R-KS), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), and Pat Roberts (R-KS).