Bi-partisanship Rules For Biogas

It’s not every week when members of Congress reach across party lines to form a consensus to benefit the American public, but this week Republicans and Democrats, urban and rural banded together to support a circular farm economy, renewable energy, healthy soils and clean waterways.

With the support of 14 members, including our home state Representatives, Susan DelBene (D) and Dan Newhouse (R), H.R. 5489, the Agriculture Environmental Stewardship Act, was introduced as a way to make it easier for livestock farmers to promote a closed-loop farming cycle by providing a 30 percent investment tax credit (ITC) for qualifying biogas and nutrient recovery systems.

It’s long been known that capturing harmful pollutants like methane from animal and food organic waste in an anaerobic digester and converting that methane into biogas creates a local source of baseload clean energy and rural jobs. More recently, though, agricultural scientists have been making great strides in recovering nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous from organic waste streams so farmers can apply rich, bacteria-free, post-digestion liquid to their crops while reducing the risk that excess runoff will find its way into watersheds and harm aquatic life. These recovered bio fertilizers can be used as an alternative to expensive, imported chemical fertilizers, making the economics of farming more profitable as well as more sustainable.

Currently, no tax incentive exists for nutrient recovery systems, and only biogas projects that generate electricity are eligible for a production tax credit under Section 45 of the federal tax code. Other energy uses like production of pipeline quality natural gas and compressed renewable natural gas vehicle fuel are omitted, which is a major reason there are only slightly more than 247 anaerobic digesters on farms in the United States (most are dairy digesters) out of 8,241 dairy, poultry and swine farms that could utilize the technology, according to the American Biogas Council. Combined with wastewater treatment and landfill gas plants, industry sources say biogas could power 3.5 million American homes and would reduce emissions the equivalent of removing 11 million passenger vehicles from the road.

H.R. 5489 will be taken up for consideration in the House Science, Space and Technology Committee. The Chairman of the Committee, Lamar Smith (R-TX), has given no indication yet whether the bill will receive a hearing.

Aliso Canyon Natural Gas Leak

Last fall, the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage tank in Southern California sprung a leak that allowed 97,100 metric tons of methane escape into the atmosphere. We’d like to help even the score by capturing that methane. Find out how.

Aliso Canyon Methane Leak

Dairy Digesters: A Smart Climate Investment

A March 2016 report from California’s Department of Finance showed building dairy digesters to be one of the most financially efficient ways for the state to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. At $8 per ton of carbon reduced, digesters–which capture methane and turn it into biogas–are a bigger bang for the bucks being spent in California’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund than other program except CALFIRE’s Forest Health Program ($4 per ton) and loans for organics and recycling ($4 per ton).

GGRF ROI chart_000001

Twofold Renewable in Tulare County

California’s Calgren Renewable Fuels uses renewable energy generated onsite to power its renewable fuel production process.

When the Calgren Ethanol Biodigester officially opened in Tulare County, California, early this year, it represented a major commitment by the state of California to employ sustainable energy production. Located in the town of Pixley, the biodigester utilizes waste from dairy operation Four J Farms to power the production of tens of millions of gallons of ethanol, all consumed in the Central Valley. It is the first digester of its kind in the state, relying on agricultural waste to create renewable natural gas to power another renewable energy facility, essentially creating a zero-waste life-cycle.

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Visalia Dairy Getting $3 Million To Convert Manure Into Power

Dairy digester under construction

Dairy digester under construction

The California Department of Food and Agriculture will award nearly $11.1 million to help pay to build five anaerobic digesters in the Central Valley, including one west of Visalia.

AgPower Visalia, LLC, a partnership that includes the Moonlight Dairy near Visalia, will receive $3 million to put toward the digester that will be built on the dairy. CDFA officials said the partnership will have to put up $4.7 million in matching funds for the project.

The grant is coming from Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, which is being funded by the CDFA and other state agencies that are investing money from California’s Cap-and-Trade Program auctions, in which businesses bid to buy allowances for greenhouse gas emissions.


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Porterville Recorder: Methane Joins Milk As Dairy Profit Item

A few California dairymen are dispensing home grown natural gas as well as milk as a profit item, pleasing their environmentalist friends as well as their neighbors.

They are turning their dairies’ most reliable by-product – cow manure – into odorless natural gas which they can sell easily and profitably or use to meet costly energy requirements on the farm.


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