Canadian Company
Tries To Reduce Cattle
Flatulence For Environment

CALGARY, Alberta ( - It sounds like a joke, but a Canadian electric company insists an agreement signed Thursday to reduce cow flatulence - a source of one of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming - is no laughing matter.
TransAlta, Canada's largest private power provider, said it has reached the multimillion-dollar agreement with Global Livestock Group, a U.S. company, to produce a feed supplement for cattle in Uganda that would reduce their belching and flatulence.
Sprayed on the cattle's hay and feed, the supplement would ease the animals' digestion to minimize expulsions of methane gas and produce more and better meat and milk, according to TransAlta.
If successful, the decrease in methane gas expelled would be equivalent to 30 million tons of carbon dioxide, company spokesman Tim Richter contended.
"People tend to snicker at the obvious joke, but when they look at the size of the emissions we're talking about here, they say, `Wow, that's a lot,"' Richter said from Vancouver, where the announcement was made at an international environmental business conference.
Greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide and methane, trap heat in the atmosphere and are believed to contribute to global warming. They are largely produced from burning oil, coal and gas.
TransAlta has pursued the deal as part of its strategy to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to a net equivalent of zero by 2024. Though the company's plants will still produce gases, they will be offset by eliminating an equivalent amount of gases elsewhere through the Uganda deal and other planned projects. TransAlta operates power plants in Alberta and has holdings in the United States, Australia and New Zealand.
The agreement is the type envisioned by the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty for industrialized nations to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions to pre-1990 levels by the year 2012.
The protocol, which still requires ratification, includes a proposal allowing companies to continue producing a higher level of greenhouse gases by gaining "credits" through projects reducing emissions elsewhere.
Environmental groups question the validity of the strategy.
John Wellner of Pollution Probe said TransAlta generates much of its power by burning coal, which releases toxins that contribute to smog and acid rain.
He said that if their operation in Uganda allows them to increase business and operations in Ontario and Alberta, "the other pollutants that go along with that production are going to increase."


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