How can you not like big old mellow cows? (
by Dan Burns
Feb 7, 2024, 7:30 AM

It’s cow gas all right

Though I got a kick out of it I can’t figure out for the life of me how an excellent descriptor like “cow gas” got into a StarTribune headline. As the article notes, the industry’s preference is “renewable natural gas.” I can well imagine that one or more Strib editors got angry phone calls from cow gas bigwigs (well, bigwigs-to-be, anyway, they hope) after doing that. We’ll see if it continues.

The Strib story is about a planned pipeline in western Minnesota to collect methane from big dairy farms and eventually funnel it into the natural gas system. A similar project is already operating in that region, and there are plenty of others in the U.S. and Europe. It’s all only contributing in quite a small way to the amount of natural gas this world uses, but it sure beats the heck out of having the methane go right into the atmosphere. There is a big concern, though, about it becoming another factor in the push toward ever larger and fewer dairy farms. That’s in the article as well. And there are other indications that things aren’t working as claimed.

If in the longer term a legitimate cost/benefit analysis comes down well on the benefit side, and if a better way of dealing with it doesn’t come along, I wouldn’t oppose seeing cow gas scaled up – that is, until natural gas in general is phased out. But there has to be good data-gathering and objective, learned analysis. Corporate greedheads, and their captive officials including in elected office, tend to do their best to obscure those.

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