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Biden’s ambitious spending bill ignites debate about methane contamination of dairy products

By Leah Douglas and Nichola Groom Washington

Environmental groups and the agricultural industry aim to offset the substantial contribution of agriculture to global warming as U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration seeks to revive ambitious social spending and climate planning in Congress. Is in conflict with the proposed subsidy.
The tax credits and subsidies proposed in the government’s drastic “Build Back Better” bill (BBB) ​​are small fertilizer-based methane gas by helping build machines that trap gas from open fertilizer pits on dairy farms. Strengthens the fast-growing market. Other livestock business. Farmers can then sell trapped methane for use in the production of electricity and vehicle fuel in the form of compressed natural gas. The proposed incentives are welcomed by dairy farmers and investors as “game changers” who can fill their income while fighting climate change by providing a less polluting alternative to fossil fuels. The industry that produces gas from organic waste says subsidies will boost machine development.
However, some environmental groups and Democrats have backfired as catching and selling methane from cattle could boost the growth of large-scale farms and increase greenhouse gas emissions if they were profitable. He opposes the subsidy, saying that he may appear in the subsidy. They warn that supporting the biomethane fuel market will delay the transition to the future of all electricity.
“Once you start making money from pollution, you can’t stop it,” said Rebecca Wolf, policy analyst at Environmental Group Food & WaterWatch.
Controversy has intensified as the use of technology has expanded, with the difficulty of reducing dairy emissions due to herd growth and marketing to reduce methane produced by both manure and animal digestion. Reflects the lack of technology.
Methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that is more likely to trap heat than carbon dioxide (CO2), is the second largest cause of climate change after CO2.
Full support from the Senate Democrats is needed to pass the BBB spending package, which has not received the support of the Senate Republicans. The Democratic Party said it couldn’t pass the bill last month, but hopes it will pass somehow this year.
Some Democrats are critical of these methane traps, known as anaerobic digestors. Senator Cory Booker, a Democrat in New Jersey, told Reuters that the plan would instead be funded “for soil health and regenerative farming practices, including planting covered crops and adopting no-till farming.” It should be targeted at family farmers. “
West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat who was unable to pass the Senate in December, opposed the spending plan, and this month expressed support for a clean energy tax credit, and the plan is still enacted. He supported the industry’s optimism that it could be.
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), livestock methane pollution accounts for more than one-third of US methane emissions. The digestive tank is mainly found in dairy cows because milking cows produce more manure than beef cattle.
Spending plans put gastrointestinal owners eligible for a 30% tax credit and put billions of dollars into a USDA program that could help gastrointestinal companies offset costs To do. Digester developers and investors say the criticisms from the Green Group are a distraction from efforts to combat climate change.
“What are the alternatives?” Bob Powell, CEO of San Francisco-based digester developer Brightmark LLC, said: “More methane is released into the atmosphere.”
According to a review of government documents and data by Reuters, previous arrangements to promote a digestive tub between former President Barack Obama’s administration and the dairy industry have severely failed to reduce emissions. In 2009, the Obama administration and the U.S. Dairy Innovation Center, an industry group, will increase its industry’s greenhouse gas emissions from 2007 levels by 2020, partly due to increased federal support for new gastrointestinal tanks. I promised to reduce it by%.
Instead, according to EPA data reviewed by Reuters, methane emissions in this sector have increased by more than 15%, in part due to the expansion of the herd. According to USDA data, the number of dairy cows nationwide has increased by 3.3% since 2009 to 9.39 million.
The dairy industry has promised to be greenhouse gas neutral by 2050, and USDA will continue to work with the industry to reach that goal, according to government officials. The current agricultural secretary, Tom Billsack, was also a secretary under the Obama administration.
According to Karen Scanlon, Executive Vice President of Environmental Stewardship at the Innovation Center and Jim Wallace, Senior Vice President of Environmental Research, the industry is 2020 because digesters are very expensive and there is no market for captured gas. The year’s goal was not achieved. ..
Digesters are expensive, usually costing $ 4 to $ 7 million each, and often require dedicated staff to run the digester. Digestive tanks also do not capture 27% of US methane emissions resulting from intestinal fermentation of livestock, or belching of cattle without a commercial scale solution.
But things have changed since 2017, as gastrointestinal tanks have been able to generate favorable credits for the biogas industry under California’s policy called low-carbon fuel standards, according to industry insiders. Even out-of-state producers can claim credit if the gas they produce is piped to fuel state trucks and buses.
Since the inclusion of dairy methane in the program, the value of these credits has nearly doubled to about $ 200, and the policy has helped “supercharge the industry,” Wallace said.
However, as a sign of controversy over the digestive tub, the October environmental group told the California Air Resources Board (CARB) that their presumed role in the fight against climate change is expanding and fertilizer is more. He insisted that he encouraged the production of fertilizer and petitioned for exemption from credit. .. California is the leading dairy state, with the industry responsible for more than half of the state’s methane emissions.
CARB said it was evaluating the petition.
Meanwhile, the state is doubling the technology, and CARB is adding 200 additional digestion tanks to meet its 2016 goal of reducing dairy methane emissions by 40% from 2013 levels. It says it may need to spend $ 700 million to $ 3.9 billion to build. The cost depends on whether the cooking can is combined with a contaminated internal combustion engine or a cleaner but much more expensive fuel cell.
After spending nearly $ 200 million on gastrointestinal tanks since 2015, the state is now on track to reach only half of its emission reduction targets.
Ryan Schauland, Head of Project Evaluation at CARB, said:
Investment in US biogas projects has already tripled to more than $ 1.6 billion since 2017. This includes data from research firms AcuComm, such as oil companies Chevron and BP seeking to use biogas, and car maker BMW. The market and its subsidies. — Reuters



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