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33 Geo. Env't L. Rev. 151 (2020-2021)
Polluting 'til the Cows Come Home: How Agricultural Exceptionalism Allows CAFOs Free Range for Climate Harm

handle is hein.journals/gintenlr33 and id is 155 raw text is: Polluting 'til the Cows Come Home:
How Agricultural Exceptionalism Allows
CAFOs Free Range for Climate Harm
Despite strong opposition under the Trump administration, recent US. cli-
mate policy proposals continue to focus on reducing the amount of greenhouse
gases emitted by some of the most polluting sectors-from transportation to
electricity generation-but one high-polluting industry has been overlooked for
decades: animal agriculture. Although animal agriculture, especially beef pro-
duction, accounts for a significant amount of highly potent greenhouse gases,
including methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N20), regulators have not
sought to curb emissions from livestock and their waste. Instead, the sector
enjoys numerous and longstanding freedoms from environmental regulation-
part of a system that agricultural law scholars have deemed agricultural
exceptionalism-perpetuated by virtue of our reliance on, and traditional
notions of, agricultural production. However, agricultural trends over the past
few decades have led to a model of highly concentrated and industrialized ani-
mal agriculture that bears little resemblance to the family farm. With the rise of
Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), facilities collocating
hundreds to thousands of animals and their waste on small areas of land, the
animal agriculture industry, more than ever, resembles the conventional model
of a greenhouse gas-emitting source.
This Note expands upon the pervasive regime of agricultural exceptionalism and
analyzes some of its ramifications in the climate context. In particular, this Note
examines the scope of climate impacts from CAFOs, the failure of federal regula-
tion to address those impacts, and the potential of alternative methods-namely,
common law climate litigation-as a substitute for regulatory intervention.
Introduction .................................................    152
I. Animal Agriculture is a Significant Contributor to Climate Change .....  153
* Georgetown Law, J.D. 2020; The George Washington University, B.A. 2016. © 2020, Ryan
Levandowski. The author thanks Professor Lisa Heinzerling and the editors of the Georgetown
Environmental Law Review.


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