California Dairy Farms Face Uncertainty After Governor Brown Signs SB 1383 Into Law

December 8, 2016

In September 2016, Governor Jerry Brown signed the Short-Lived Climate Pollutants Bill (SB 1383) into law, setting aggressive year 2030 emissions reduction targets for three “super pollutants”—black carbon, fluorinated gases, and methane.  To achieve the reduction targets, SB 1383 requires the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to develop strategies that will reduce methane and fluorinated gas emissions by 40 percent of 2013 levels by 2030, and black carbon emissions by 50 percent of 2013 levels by 2030.

In California, more than half of methane emissions come from dairy and beef operations, with the majority arising from cow manure and belching at dairy farms.  Notably, 94 percent of all methane emissions in California come from landfills and dairy and beef operations.

Although California regulators have had the authority to regulate the emission of methane from dairy farms since the passage of Assembly Bill 32 in 2006, the powerful dairy industry was previously able to successfully oppose such regulation.  However, Governor Brown’s recent signing of SB 1383 into law signals the end of the industry’s decade of successful opposition.

By Martin P. Stratte