Sen. John Thune today hailed a provision in the Fiscal Year 2010 Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill that prohibits the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from taxing producers for naturally occurring livestock emissions. Senator Thune has worked in a bipartisan manner to prevent the imposition of a so-called “cow tax.”

“This is a great victory for South Dakota’s livestock producers and our rural economy. In recent months the EPA has taken steps that would open the door to strict regulation of emissions from multiple sources without Congressional approval,” said Thune. “Both the Senate and the House Interior Appropriations bills would prevent the EPA from regulating livestock emissions, which is a victory for South Dakota livestock producers as well as all American consumers. The Clean Air Act is an essential tool in regulating smokestack industry emissions, but it was not designed to target South Dakota farmers and ranchers.”

Earlier this year, Senator Thune introduced a bill (S. 527) with Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) that would amend the Clean Air Act to prevent the EPA from creating an emissions permit system for naturally occurring livestock emissions. Senator Thune’s concerns about the cow tax issue result from rules proposed by the EPA after the Supreme Court ordered it to decide whether to regulate greenhouse gases, including methane and carbon dioxide, as pollutants under the Clean Air Act.

Earlier this year, the Obama administration made the decision to move forward with an Endangerment Finding that would pave the way for the regulation of these greenhouse gases. Senator Thune has closely monitored the EPA’s rule writing process on this issue and has frequently spoken out about steps taken that could lead to a cow tax. 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.

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. Although Senator Thune strongly supports the provision prohibiting the EPA from creating a livestock emissions permit system, he expressed disappointment at the overall cost of the Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill.

“This year’s Interior and Environment appropriations bill is roughly 15 percent more costly than last year’s, not counting the billions more in stimulus funding. The Democrat-led Congress continues to disregard our growing national debt with out-of-control spending. While I am very supportive of the cow tax ban, I cannot support spending that irresponsibly adds to our exploding national debt and deficits.”