Dairy Cows: Tangled Up In the Green New Deal [with comment by Steve]

The Green New Deal, and similar environmental initiatives, have little to do with the environment and much to do with the Left’s desire to control every aspect of our lives. Because everything we do, beginning with breathing, involves emission of carbon dioxide or other “greenhouse gases.” AOC’s Green New Deal specifically proposed, among other things, that all air travel be banned and that all cows be done away with because they produce methane.

People who don’t follow current events closely may think that we who sound an alarm over the dictatorial potential inherent in today’s environmental activism exaggerate the problem. No one, some would assume, could possibly take the Green New Deal’s war on cows seriously.

In fact, it is deadly serious. Today the Minnesota Court of Appeals issued an opinion in In the Matter of the Decision on the Need for an Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Daley Farms of Lewiston, LLP – 2018 Dairy Expansion Utica Township. Daley Farms wants to expand its dairy operation, which naturally entails having more cows. Daley Farms dutifully went through the permitting process with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and the MPCA granted the necessary permits. That wasn’t good enough for far-left organizations like the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, which appealed the MPCA’s grant of permits to the Minnesota Court of Appeals. MCEA argued, among other things, that the agency hadn’t taken into account the methane emissions that more cows would generate.

Shockingly, the Minnesota Court of Appeals found this objection persuasive. It reversed the MPCA’s permit issuance and sent the matter back to the agency for further proceedings. This is what the court said about the gases emitted by cows and global warming:

The MPCA’s response to the MCEA’s comment suggests that it did not consider greenhouse-gas emissions before it denied an [Environmental Impact Statement]. Not only are greenhouse-gas emissions absent from the animal-feedlot [Environmental Assessment Worksheet] form, but they are also missing from the EIS order issued by the MPCA after the public-comment period. The MPCA does not dispute that large dairy-farm operations like Daley Farms emit methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change, and that greenhouse-gas emissions could have the potential for significant environmental effects.8 The MPCA’s reliance on the absence of greenhouse-gas emissions on the animal-feedlot EAW form shows that the MPCA failed to take a “hard look” because it “entirely failed to consider an important aspect of the problem.” See CARD, 713 N.W.2d at 832.
We acknowledge Daley Farms’ assertion that there is no easy measure for determining the environmental impact from a feedlot permit because of the substantial difficulty and uncertainty in estimating emissions from animal feedlots. See Lightfoot, supra, at 1094 (pointing out that our decision in Holsten “recognizes that certain analyses relevant to climate change, such as determining the impacts of a project’s discrete greenhouse gas emissions or how changes in the climate may affect models used to forecast a project’s environmental effects, are beyond the state of the art”). But although it may be difficult to measure the impact of greenhouse-gas emissions, the MPCA did not offer this as an explanation when it denied the EIS for Daley Farms’ project because it did not consider the issue.
We conclude that the MPCA failed to take a “hard look” at potentially significant environmental effects and its decision lacks “articulated standards and reflective findings.”

If this decision stands, every farmer in Minnesota who wants to add more cows (or other animals, presumably) to his farm will have to pay lawyers to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement that calculates the effect of the additional farm animals on the Earth’s average temperature. I can save them some money: the impact is zero, to however many decimal points you want to work it out to.

Is this a big deal? It certainly is. Daley Farms has been trying since July 2017 to expand its operation. God only knows how much money it has spent already. With the Court’s decision today, Daley Farms will either go several more years, and spend much more money, or else give up on expanding its dairy farm.

The need for endless environmental assessments and filings, and the invitation to lavishly-funded left-wing groups to challenge permits issued by state and federal agencies, explain why we can no longer do anything. We can’t build a dam, we can’t replace a pipeline, we can’t build a power plant (especially a nuclear one). With this decision, we can’t even expand a dairy farm.

Today’s decision from the Minnesota Court of Appeals (which may have been justified by a completely different issue that the Court addressed) should be a wake-up call to all Americans that liberals aren’t kidding when they say they want to prevent us from eating meat, or drinking milk or consuming other dairy products, in the name of “climate change.” The battle has been joined, and if normal Americans don’t get engaged, the Left will win. As they did today.

STEVE comments:

California has this covered, as usual:

I’m looking forward to a second-hand market in free-range cows.

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