It’s been said many times that Washington, D.C. is full of hot air. Last week, though, a group of biogas industry leaders including our own Director of Research and Technology, Dr. Craig Frear, was in the nation’s capital to meet with lawmakers and to demonstrate how an endless supply of hot emissions (from cows, not politicians) can be captured and turned into one of America’s cleanest sources of baseload energy—renewable natural gas.
“While most methane captured from anaerobic digesters is used to generate electricity, it’s becoming more viable to turn that biogas into renewable natural gas (RNG), which can be pumped into our existing natural gas infrastructure to reduce the nation’s carbon emissions even further,” Frear said.
That was the takeaway message at the RNG Forum hosted by the Coalition for Renewable Natural Gas and the American Biogas Council, which included biogas industry members and government agencies overseeing energy and agricultural policies at the federal level. An overflow crowd attended the half-day event, attesting to the growing importance of RNG within the biogas sector.
Following the conference, Frear–as part of a delegation of Board of Directors of the American Biogas Council—spent two days on Capitol Hill sharing that message with the new administration as well as over 20 members of Congress and their policy staffs as part of a primer on how federal policy is integral to the success of the biogas industry.
“Congress, along with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be making some key decisions over the next few months,” Frear said, “and stability is critical for the industry right now.”
Frear cited protecting the already enacted Renewable Fuel Standard from major changes as well as the Renewable Identification Number (RIN) pathway, which allows biofuels to be tracked from production to trading as keys for the industry during the 115th Congress.
One change Frear did say he would like to see happen before the next Congress is seated in 2019 is an extension of the Investment Tax Credit so private investors can take advantage of the biogas to RNG production opportunities much in the same way other clean energy technologies like wind and solar energy development are encouraged through the federal tax code.
“Every electron created in the biogas sector is one less electron that has to be generated from dirty fossil fuels,” Frear said. “We know this is the future of energy production in the United States, and we want biogas to be recognized as an equally important fuel source because it doesn’t require the sun to shine or the wind to blow to keep the lights on. Additionally, its flexibility to be used as either electricity on the transmission grid or clean natural gas delivered through pipelines translates into greater energy security for our nation,” Frear said.