California dairy farmers must buy multimillion $ cow-manure ‘digesters’ to comply with climate-change law

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In September 2016, California governor Jerry Brown signed a bill to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.

Adam Ashton reports for The Sacramento Bee that methane, a greenhouse gas like carbon dioxide, builds up in dairy manure pits, where farmers store waste for months until they can spread it on the crops they grow to feed their cows. Since agriculture accounts for more than half of California’s methane emissions, this makes it an obvious industry for the state’s Air Resources Board to regulate as it tries to meet the new law’s goal.

In order to comply with the new law, California’s dairy farmers have to purchase expensive methane digesters, each costing several million dollars, to convert the greenhouse gas emitted by cow manure into a source of renewable energy.

The digester covers the cow manure pit with a tarp. As the manure decomposes, methane lifts and becomes trapped under heavy plastic. Several times a day, a small power plant connected to the manure pit draws down the methane and burns it in the same manner that utilities use natural gas.

Daryl Maas, whose Redding-based Maas Energy Works manages the digester in the Van Warmerdam dairy farm, enthused: “We’re generating clean power, and we’re destroying a greenhouse gas. You can’t beat that!” Maas also earns as much as a quarter of his California revenue from selling “offset credits” to businesses that emit large quantities of carbon dioxide, such as oil refineries, which pay dairies with methane digesters to offset their pollution. 

But the methane digesters are so expensive that dairies must win a grant to help them get started. A 2014 study from the California Energy Commission found that the digesters are not economically viable without grants. California expects to offer about $50 million in methane reduction grants to dairies, which would buy about 18 to 22 digesters. One dairy farm, the Van Warmerdams, received a grant of about $900,000 from the U.S. Department of Energy and the California Energy Commission to purchase a digester that uses manure from about 1,400 cows to power about 400 homes when it’s running at peak capacity.

Not only must the dairy farmers cobble together the money to purchase the expensive methane digesters, they must also find utilities that would buy the power the digesters generate from cow poop so as to recover the cost of the equipment. But finding utilities takes time away from full-time dairy farming.

Alas, the methane digesters don’t curtail cow burps and cow farts, which emit methane about equal the amount emitted from cow poop.

H/t Maziel

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22 responses to “California dairy farmers must buy multimillion $ cow-manure ‘digesters’ to comply with climate-change law

  1. I suppose that if a dairy farmer cannot find someone who will purchase the methane–they either go out of business, or need to charge $35.00 a gallon for the milk. Who would ever have thought that life in America would get to be so dog gone hectic?

    • Hi, Auntie Lulu. Generally these impossibly expensive standards imposed on small farmers are designed to cripple them with punishing noncompliance fines and legal costs, and so make them sell out to ‘money interests’ at pennies on the dollar. Water resources and vast tracts of farmland in California are already controlled, not by farming people, but by billionaire cosmopolitans in SF and LA.

      Some decades ago, if I recall correctly, chicken farming was largely handed over to conspirators under the guise of new federal guidelines imposing building standards on small farmers’ coops, forcing them to sell or become effectively subsumed by mainly financial crooks playing farmer for the cameras who in turn imposed effective indentured servitude on family farmers by financing the rebuilds.

      I’m no expert in farming matters, and maybe someone here who is can fill us in on what’s really going on, but I smell a rat since here again socialistic do-goodism is almost certainly a cover story for impoverishing family farmers to enrich cosmopolitan rentiers who own the Dems and believe even touching soil defiles their delusional sense of divinity.

  2. How much Carbon & CO2 is generated by the burning of the Methane, one wonders? Perhaps the stats for that need to be publicized as well? (Will they try to drain all the swamps & wetlands across the world as well to try to stem methane releases? Cap geysers and Springs that may bubble out Methane? Do they even understand how Nature actually works to self-regulate?)

    To me this seems to not be about greenhouse gases or the environment, and not even money, (Although obviously part of the equation.) but rather about control, and forcing satanic ideology on people, and forcing people to be unable to have dairy or beef products, while also increasing poverty.

  3. you people keep voting for the idiots that pass laws like that so ENJOY!

    As for the farmers – sell the cows to a slaughterhouse, sell the farm, and retire.

    • Who’s “you people”? This blog, Fellowship of the Minds?
      You do know that many Californians didn’t vote for the Demonrats, and countless of them are stuck in the state, unable to move away for personal or work reasons.

  4. If Green was real and not Red, issuing a Immigration Moratorium and building a Wall and deporting illegals, would have been done back in the 90’s before Globalist Liberals like Newt Gingrich & Co hijacked and derailed the movement lead by Pat Buchanan to do just that!
    According to environmentalists , human population growth is the #1 factor for environmental degradation, increased globull warming causing green house gases, pollution, wildlife habitat loss, and wildlife.
    Human population growth is fueled/driven in the US,Australia,NZ,Canada, & the EU by immigration. So why aren’t environmental groups speaking out against immigration? Because they have been hijacked and our frauds.

  5. California has been driving it’s farmers out of business and selling their land to the Chinese for over a decade. Drive through the central valley’s and read the billboards that the embattled farmers have erected. This isn’t about environment. It’s about money and control, but the dumb liberals just lap it up.

  6. This fascination with the life cycle of manure is a real fetish. This is part of the “green” process of using it as fertilizer on the fields, which then produce better crops. Nope, let’s force them to buy chemically produced, and sterile, fertilizers that run off into the water and even pollute the aquifers. On fields where they spray chemicals that kill insects and “unwanted species of plants” in their fields. Never mind what those chemicals do AFTER wiping life out of a section of land. While poop, burps and farts have “affected the climate” since life began on this planet. If it made a planet unsustainable, man would never have left the caves before the planet died.

  7. William Russell Waite

    Here in flyover country our utilities are always looking for new generating capacity, they routinely install jet turbines that use the methane as fuel to turn generators and send electricity into the grid. It’s not a concept that doesnt exist, it doesn’t fit into their watermelon plans of solar and wind. Why are they getting federal grants for state mandated regulations? That’s the big question that will go unanswered. The biggest polluters on the planet are volcanos. One minor eruption spews more “pollution” into the atmosphere than man has since 1900. In congressional testimony just last week one of their climate panelists said on the record the major sea level rise (400′) that occurred 15-20,000 years ago was caused by volcanos and magnetic shift. How can they now claim man is the main culprit? Lol logic and independent thinking is apparently a lost art in our current society.

  8. Brilliant. Maybe these can double as first-stage transport vehicles for the Mars effort. All it would take is a misplaced match or a lightening strike.

  9. Well, they’ve finally found a way to make milk cost $12 a gallon. Great work, Jerry you Jerk!

    On the other hand, if we could throw Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes into that methane tank, THAT would be a Green New Deal I could live with!

  10. “settled science” is political, not science – They only cite the supply side, not the demand side of CO2 (Plant food), They only talk about the affects on temperature from CO2 raise, never the affects on agriculture (Every greenhouse operator knows increased CO2 = increased crop yield.)

    There are two very simple facts the Liberals will not acknowledge:

    #1 This Earth can only sustain 2 billion people without burning fossil fuel – John Deere does not run on batteries… so, what to do with 5 billion dead bodies?

    #2 The “deal” Trump wisely backed us out of would have taxed USA and sent this money to the #1 and #4 producers of CO2 – Chairman Mao’s China, and India…

    Most importantly, the Earth can only sustain 2 billion people without burning fossil fuel, so what are they going to do with the 5 – 6 billion corpse ? John Deer doesn’t run on batteries, nor can airliners… how will those fat cats in Congress jet home every weekend without jet fuel ?

    • It’s only a matter of time before they declare oxygen to be a “poisonous gas” too, like CO2. After all, it supports human life and we all know that human life is an anomaly.

      This world was intended for unicorns. They breath mint gas and produce pixie dust. You don’t have to be stupid to believe this crap, but it helps.

  11. These digesters look like a good place for California Democrats to go missing…🤔🤢😉💩

  12. So, does natural cow poop not in an artificially-collected pile not cause a problem? Or is this just to “Green New Deal” dairy farms out of business?

    • Yes, from now on cows will require a “license” (sold by the state, of course), and must poop in the collector. Homeless and illegal aliens will be allowed to poop on the street, as usual.

      City council members and state representatives will not be allowed to inspect the collectors as they have limited capacity and given the amount of methane an average politician emits would surely overload these systems.

  13. When the Liberal Watermelons call Petroleum “Fossil Fuel” it makes one believe that there is a limit to it and it will run out. How about if that is not really true? Petroleum has been made artificially and my Geology professor told our class that Petroleum was really a “Plate Lubricant” that the continental plates ride on.

    Green Oil: Scientists Turn Algae Into Petroleum In 30 Minutes

    • I totally agree. The Russians have done some interesting work on this. In fact, many of the old wells are quickly refilling. The Russians have methods to clean the old ones so they refill more quickly.

  14. WOW! Only in the drug-addled mind of a card carrying member of Woodstock Nation could such a self destructive law have been conceived!

  15. Pingback: California dairy farmers must buy multimillion $ cow-manure ‘digesters’ to comply with climate-change law - Free World Economic Report

  16. California is on the road to legislate it’s self out of existence it’s hard to see how anyone can be as ignorant as the government in California

    • Richard,
      (((The People’s Communist Democracies of NJ & NY))) are not very far behind California in Liberal insanity. They are failed states and sane people are fleeing from it in droves.


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