What Will Happen To Our Cows?

Jay Matteson

Being good environmental stewards is in everyone’s best interest. Clean water, clean air, clean soils are critical to life. Every industry and person should conserve our natural resources and reduce our impact on the environment, especially our climate. Let’s be clear, our climate is constantly changing. As most are aware, there is a huge debate about how much is caused by humans, to what degree natural systems cause the changes, and even to what degree our sun impacts climatic cycles. In the end, the hysterical arguments and claims damage the ability of people and industries to work together, calmly, to clean up our environment and make the world a cleaner place to live for our grandchildren. It seems sweeping bold claims and major pieces of legislation are the way, instead of common, sensical, reasonable steps forward that allow for people to adopt, adapt and embrace. 

    In the New York State Legislature there is legislation, the Climate and Community Protection Act (CCPA), that is intended to make New York State the leading state in adopting climate change legislation. The CCPA requires a 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. By 2050, the CCPA sets a standard of zero greenhouse gas emissions within New York state. Let me say that again, within thirty years, greenhouse gas emissions will be eliminated within New York state, according to the legislation. All sectors of our economy, including agriculture, are targeted. 

    In thinking about this initiative, I immediately am concerned for our dairy processing companies. Natural gas is important to our food processing industry. How will these companies operate their plants, which employ about 300 people in Jefferson County alone, if they cannot use natural gas? Thirty years is not much time to identify new technologies that can replace natural gas in food processing. How will these companies afford transforming to new technologies? We use trucks, trains and planes to transport our raw products and value-added goods across the nation. Will we tell companies you can’t license fossil fuel powered transportation in the state but if transportation comes in from outside New York state, we allow it? Will the cost of production be driven so high in New York that these companies will shutter their plants here, possibly moving to other states? If New York causes companies to move their operations to other states where the regulatory impact is less, have we created a false utopia? Whereas, supporting research and development, and rewarding good voluntary environmental stewardship efforts, might keep business in New York state. 

    What about our cows? Many of us have heard or read about efforts to regulate cow flatulence. Will our livestock be targeted in the CCPA? Will livestock be allowed in New York state? Cows do emit greenhouse gases. I’m not aware of any filters that can be placed to control dairy air. 

    Of equal concern in considering this important issue is how will sweeping new regulations impact our average citizen’s finances. I read some reports from environmental advocacy groups about how jobs will be created because of the CCPA. Certainly, some will. The real question is how many more jobs, that the average citizen needs, will be lost because companies cant keep up with regulations and mandates? If people cannot afford to feed their families and have a reasonable quality of life, the last thing they worry about is the environment. There are very few people that will live like hermits so they can be good environmentalists. 

    As I began, so will I end. One of my favorite books is Aldo Leopold’s Sand County Almanac. Aldo is regarded as the father of conservationism. The book has much wisdom about how the environment works. It is wise to do everything reasonably possible to minimize our footprints on this planet. As big and wild as it may seem, it is still the only home we have. But we humans are here, and we must measure how we impact each other in the things we do and the regulations we pass. 

July 2016 Feature Story: Craft Beverage

Tapping into agri-tourism

From left, Kaneb Orchards owners Edward Kaneb Jr.  and Elizabeth  Kaneb  with Kaneb Orchards marketing/sales manager Nancy Badlam at their Massena cider operation. Photo by Jason Hunter, NNY Business.

From left, Kaneb Orchards owners Edward Kaneb Jr.and Elizabeth
Kaneb with Kaneb Orchards marketing/sales manager Nancy Badlam at their Massena cider operation. Photo by Jason Hunter, NNY Business.

Region’s craft beverage industry diversifies as it grows

By Karee Magee, NNY Business

Twenty-one years after the north country’s first craft brewery, Sackets Harbor Brewing Company, opened in 1995, the craft beverage industry in the region has hit its stride as a major contributor to agri-tourism. [Read more…]

April 2016 Cover Story: SUNY Potsdam’s Bicentennial

A celebration 200 years in the making

SUNY Potsdam President Kristin Esterberg celebrates the 200th anniversary of the university March 25 during a bicentennial bash at the school’s student union. Photo by Jason Hunter, NNY Business.

SUNY Potsdam President Kristin Esterberg celebrates the 200th anniversary of the university March 25 during a bicentennial bash at the school’s student union. Photo by Jason Hunter, NNY Business.

On March 25, 2016, SUNY Potsdam, the oldest of state system’s 64 campuses, marked the founding of St. Lawrence Academy. The present-day college traces its beginnings to 1816 when the Academy and its first Board of Trustees were formed. Two centuries later, SUNY Potsdam is a story of the evolution of educational excellence.

[Read more…]