Michael Sainato, THE GUARDIAN
The state pumps millions into methane produced by manure – but advocates argue it increases greenhouse gas emissions and encourages factory farming
A coalition of climate, environmental and animal welfare groups is calling for California to remove the huge subsidies provided to dairy farms to turn animal waste into a form of energy called biogas.
Manure, which emits the potent greenhouse gas methane, is a big problem for US farms, and is particularly stark in California, where the dairy industry accounts for nearly half the state’s methane emissions.
Since 2011, California has been running a policy called the low carbon fuel standard (LCFS), which now includes incentives for dairy farms to convert methane into energy to fuel vehicles by enabling them to sell offset credits. This is intended to be a win-win: reducing farm emissions while allowing fossil fuel companies to mitigate their own greenhouse gas emissions by buying these offsets. The number of anaerobic digesters used to produce the biogas has surged in the state especially among large dairy farms.
But environmental advocates argue that the environmental benefits of biogas are exaggerated, and that the LCFS encourages the expansion of factory farms and could end up increasing emissions and pollution.
In a petition to the California Air Resources Board (Carb), the state government’s clean air agency that runs the LCFS, six environmental groups called for dairy farms to be excluded from the policy. In January, Carb turned down the request but said it would continue to engage with the petitioners.
Read more at https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/feb/04/california-subsidies-biogas-dairy-cows-emissions-climate
Mary Callahan, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
A four-year effort to bring green waste recycling back to Sonoma County has collapsed, scuttling hopes of restoring any time soon a high-volume, locally based compost operation to supply farmers, landscapers and backyard gardeners.
The breakdown came late last month after the company chosen to work with the county waste agency withdrew from negotiations after it failed to secure financing.
The company, Renewable Sonoma, and its principal, Will Bakx, terminated negotiations with the county agency and the city of Santa Rosa after 2½ years of trying to shore up plans for a high-tech composting facility that would convert food scraps and yard waste into valuable agricultural products. The project, estimated to cost $52 million, also was to produce biogas to help power treatment equipment on land leased at the city’s Laguna Wastewater Treatment Plant on Llano Road.
Bakx, whose proposal ranked first among nine pitches considered by the county in 2018 for siting and construction of a modern compost facility, said he had to pull the plug on negotiations because he couldn’t put together funding after talking with a variety of investors. He said he was not at liberty to disclose details.
Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/news/negotiations-for-new-sonoma-county-composting-site-ended-over-financing-iss/
Eric Gneckow, PETALUMA ARGUS-COURIER
Using the latest technology costing millions of dollars, Petaluma will soon be turning to a new source of fuel for powering its fleet of garbage trucks — your toilet.
The California Energy Commission announced this month it was awarding Petaluma $3 million to build a natural gas collection and automotive fueling station at the Ellis Creek Water Recycling Facility, part of an overall $15 million expansion expected for completion in 2018.
The broader work will increase capacity while allowing the plant to take high-strength waste from local industry, creating a scale that Petaluma Environmental Services Manager Leah Walker said was sufficient to process solid waste from city residents and businesses into the foreseeable future.
The project will allow Ellis Creek to keep pace with the massive growth in local breweries, dairy processors and others — companies that generally truck their high-strength waste elsewhere for treatment. Shortening those trips will lower greenhouse gas emissions, as will the eventual switch from most of Petaluma’s diesel-powered garbage trucks to those running on biologically derived natural gas.
Read more at: Petaluma to turn sewage into truck fuel | Petaluma Argus Courier | Petaluma360.com
Kevin McCallum, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
A massive crane lifted the last of four large silver tanks into place at Santa Rosa’s wastewater treatment plant last week, a major milestone in the city’s $3 million effort to turn tough-to-treat waste into energy and save local businesses money in the process.
The new equipment at the city’s Llano Road plant isn’t much to look at. The four 10,000-gallon tanks sitting on a concrete pad are not unlike the steel tanks found in typical breweries and wineries in the area.
But when they go into operation in April, the towering cauldrons will contain a far more potent brew — thousands of gallons of stuff typically too nasty to send down the sewers, including fats, oils, grease, food waste and slaughterhouse slime.
Currently, those and other high-strength wastes are trucked from North Coast restaurants, wineries, breweries and food producers to Oakland, where they are turned into energy at the treatment facilities at the massive East Bay Municipal Utility District.
But by building its own high-strength receiving and storage station, Santa Rosa hopes to treat that waste locally, turn it into biogas to keep the plant’s power costs down, and save local businesses significant transportation costs.
Read more at: Santa Rosa expands ability to treat grease, food | The Press Democrat
Angela Hart, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
To pump, treat and transport the drinking water for 660,000 North Bay residents, the Sonoma County Water Agency uses enough electricity every day to power the equivalent of about 6,500 local homes.
Going forward, all that electricity will be from renewable and carbon-free sources, meaning it will come from the expanding network of solar installations popping up around the county, as well as from The Geysers geothermal fields on the Sonoma-Lake county line and other established green energy projects.
The Water Agency has been moving steadily toward the clean energy goal since 2006 and this year expects to hit its target, a benchmark that officials celebrated on Monday.
“This is a big deal,” said Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, who gathered with local and state lawmakers at the headquarters of Santa Rosa Water, the city’s utilities department. “If we’re going to tackle this huge problem of climate change, we’re going to have to address that embedded footprint in how we manage water.”
The two largest local renewable energy sources for the Water Agency include hydroelectric power generated by Warm Springs Dam at Lake Sonoma, which supplies more than a quarter of the agency’s needs, and a power plant that generates electricity from methane gas at the Central Landfill, accounting for about 55 percent of the agency’s needs.
The remainder of the Water Agency’s supply comes from a combination of local solar installations — the water wholesaler has installed three systems totaling more than 3,000 solar panels on county-owned property — and from sources linked to Sonoma Clean Power, the public provider, or other hydroelectric projects.
Read more via Sonoma County Water Agency hits clean energy goal | The Press Democrat.