A coalition of animal welfare, climate, and environmental groups is calling on California to end the massive subsidies that were provided to dairy farms in order to convert animal waste into energy called biogas.
US farms are facing a serious problem with methane gas from their manure. This is especially true in California, where nearly half the methane emissions come from the dairy industry.
California has been running a policy known the “The” since 2011. low carbon fuel standard(LCFS) now offers incentives to dairy farms to convert methane to energy to fuel vehicles, as well as allowing them to sell offset credit. This is a win-win situation: reduce farm emissions and allow fossil fuel companies to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. PurchaseThese offsets. The number of anaerobic digestioners used to produce biogas The number of people who have benefited from this surge has increasedEspecially large dairy farms are found in the state.
But environmental advocates Argument The environmental benefits of biogas may be exaggerated. Furthermore, the LCFS encourages expansion of factory farms and could lead to increased pollution.
In a PetitionSix environmental groups requested that dairy farms be excluded from the policy of the California Air Resources Board (Carb), which is the state’s clean air agency that manages the LCFS. Carb declined the request in January but stated that it would continue to engage the petitioners.
This decision will set the stage for the future. [and]This will ensure that the program will remain fundamentally flawed and California will fall further behind its climate targets, stated Tyler Lobdell (a staff attorney at Food & Water Watch), one of the organizations involved with the petition.
Biogas from manure is being marketed as a cleaner alternative to fossil fuels, according to Phoebe Seaton (co-director and attorney at Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability), a signatory of the petition. However, it burns the exact same, has many the same environmental impacts, and has huge local impacts at its production.
California’s current credit system allows biogas produced from dairy farms to receive carbon intensity ratings. 200%-300% offA battery electric car powered entirely by renewable energy such as solar and wind. Lobdell said that this is a very stark example of perverse incentives driving this program. Who in their right mind would think that factory farm gas should be prioritized, even though it is still a source of combustion-based energy?
Brent Newell is a Senior Attorney at Public Justice’s Legal Advocacy Non-Profit. He cited the Natural gas leak settlement at Aliso CanyonCalifornia is an example where credit programs are in trouble. In 2015, the largest ever methane leaking incident in the US occurred at Aliso Canyon natural-gas storage facility. Southern California Gas Company, the owner of this facility, reached a settlement. Pay more than $26mConstruction of digesters on dairy farms
These facilities are receiving money through the Aliso Canyon settlement fund. They’re also getting money from state and credit under both systems for reducing the same reductions two times, then they sell reduction credits in market, said Newell.
Digesters without government subsidies or grants may not be financially viable according to anAnalyse UC Davis researchers conducted a study and found that $68 of gas can be produced from one cow for $294 per year. This excludes the initial cost of building the digester. The revenue loss can be reversed with LCFS credits: one cow can generate a subsidy amounting to $1,935 per annum, according to AnalysisAaron Smith, DeLoach professor in agricultural economics at UC Davis
The global biogas market is expected to double to more than $126.2bn by 2030. This type of methane manufacturing is also projected to grow. It could be more lucrativeThe dairy industry is more important than milk production. California has spent More than $600mSince 2015, subsidizing the construction digesters, primarily at large farm farms with average herdsAbout 7,000 cows were killed in 2017 and 2018.
The Union of Concerned Scientists criticized dairy biogas subsidies for being excessive and greatly exceeding the cost of producing methane using manure. An AnalysisAccording to the organization, the LCFS will also disproportionately profit the largest and most polluting dairy farmers, potentially increasing industry consolidation and disincentivizing other methods to reduce methane emissions.
Seaton stated that the revenue from low-carbon fuel standard-related subsidies is driving this continuing intensification of dairy industry and intensifying local impacts. Large dairy operations have been linked both to water pollution and air pollution, as well as health problems for residents of the communities where they are concentrated.
Smith said that without these subsidies, we wouldn’t be processing biogas to use it as a substitute for fossil natural gas.
Carb has responded to criticisms of the LCFS credit systems. The agency was determined to ensure that our program is focused on environmental justice, environmental integrity, but that any requests for near-term rulemaking were premature. A Carb spokesperson said that there would be a public workshop within the next few weeks to address claims about the LCFS program, and its impact on dairy sector.