Top Calif. Methane Emitter Is A Vast Cattle Feedlot. It Gets A Pass

"A “kid gloves” approach to agricultural emissions, including burping cows, raises questions about an environmentally minded state’s commitment to combating climate change."

"Forty miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border in Southern California’s Imperial Valley, the Brandt Company cattle ranch is the largest single point source of methane emissions in the state, releasing more of that greenhouse gas than any oil or gas well, refinery or landfill.

The 643-acre feedlot is home to 139,000 beef cattle, according to the most recent figures reported by state regulators. With their belching and manure, the animals produce an estimated 9,167 metric tons of methane annually, according to an Inside Climate News analysis. The calculations build on the work of the nonprofit coalition Climate TRACE, which is developing a farm-by-farm inventory of methane emissions from cattle with the aid of public records, satellite imagery and artificial intelligence.

In essence, the ranch’s emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas 81 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period, equal the annual greenhouse gas emissions of 165,000 automobiles. Only Southern California Gas Company and Pacific Gas and Electric Company, the state’s largest two natural gas utilities—with leaks across tens of thousands of miles of underground pipeline networks—release more methane, the primary component of natural gas.

But you won’t find the Brandt ranch, or any other single livestock operation or dairy, in state or federal greenhouse gas emissions databases."

Phil McKenna, Georgina Gustin, and Peter Aldhous report for Inside Climate News August 18, 2023.

Source: Inside Climate News, 08/21/2023