Could EPA fine ranchers for methane emission?

It is just an odorous fact... cows emit methane.

But should ranchers be fined for that pollution?

The Environmental Protection Agency is looking into it... in a proposal many have dubbed the "cow tax."

And while the proposal is still far from becoming law, area folks have already expressed that they think that the "cow tax" stinks.

Texas Cattle Feeders Association has received a lot of concerned calls from area farmers and ranchers.

"It's generated a huge number of phone calls and interest on behalf of our members and just agriculture producers as a whole," said Ben Weinheimer, TCFA Vice President.

In a time where commodity prices are low and the overall economy is tough... fees as much as 30 to $40 thousand for a modest ranch operation are the last thing the industry wants to hear about.

"Profitability is as low as it's been in a long time and so any additional costs at this point would be disastrous," said Weinheimer.

The fate of the cattle industry closely ties into the future of Amarillo's economy. More than a quarter of the nation's fed beef comes from this area... totaling about a $15 billion impact on the economy when you count feed, sales and salaries.

But do not count your losses just yet.

ProNews 7 spoke with the EPA Friday and they said that they are not proposing a cow tax... that is not in their authority. They are simply looking into, among other things, the possible greenhouse gas regulations under the Clean Air Act.

But that is little comfort to Weinheimer.

"Potentially with the right statutes or changes to statutes and changes to regulations there sure enough could be something like a "cow tax" in the future," he said.

If the cattle, dairy and hog industries see new fees that also indirectly affects the local economy... because it will mean prices going up on your grocery bill.