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Developments in cattle and methane 

It's a big news day in the greater Billings area, with a national profile of a locally-based cattlemen's group, and a partial settlement between environmentalists and coalbed-methane drillers.

I've been following R-CALF USA with interest: it seems to me a group genuinely pushing for the betterment of ranchers. Their arguments that the National Cattlemen's Beef Association has been captured by other elements of the beef production process (such as meat-packers) strike me as awfully powerful. Who could oppose Country of Origin Labeling? It's a great market-based solution. It provides better information to the consumer, and because consumers like to buy American, it will improve the condition of America's beef producers. Meanwhile, yes there may be something self-serving about R-CALF's attempts to keep the Canadian border closed to beef -- but hey, that's what a cattlemen's group is supposed to do about an issue like this: be self-serving.

The Northern Plains Resource Council has developed a powerful and surprisingly unique strategy among environmental groups. They're interested in collaboration, but they're not afraid of litigation. They believe the two go hand-in-hand. While the issues surrounding coalbed methane are incredibly complicated, this latest agreement is clearly tied to the lawsuit. NPRC used a similar approach in dealing with the Stillwater mine several years ago; my case study of that agreement is available here.

I'm always interested in feedback, via info at johnclaytonbooks..[dot-com]

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