January 23, 2009

Senator Nelson Introduces Biogas Legislation

Nebraska’s Senator Ben Nelson has introduced legislation that promotes the development of biogas – a natural gas substitute created by converting agricultural, animal or other organic wastes – through tax incentives.

“We already have the technology to break down these wastes to create biogas but it needs encouragement from the federal government to become a commercially-viable alternative to natural gas. This new energy source would benefit rural communities and the environment while lessening our dependence on fossil fuels and ensuring energy security,” said Nelson. “We shouldn’t waste the waste; we should promote biogas development.”

This legislation is cosponsored by Senators Mike Crapo of Idaho, Mike Johanns of Nebraska, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, John Thune of South Dakota, Ron Wyden of Oregon and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan.

Biogas is produced through technologies such as anaerobic digestion (AD) that can convert animal wastes and other agricultural or organic wastes into at least 50% methane (the principal ingredient of natural gas). Biogas can be used as is on the farm or co-located with another facility such as an ethanol plant, or as a renewable substitute for natural gas, propane or other fossil fuels.

Nelson’s legislation, the Biogas Production Incentives Act of 2009, would encourage greater production of biogas for energy purposes by providing biogas producers with a tax credit of $4.27 for every million British thermal units (mmBtu) of biogas produced. This could mean more jobs and a boon for rural communities.

Biogas production also offers environmental benefits such as a reduction in the greenhouse gas emissions of both carbon dioxide and methane and improved water quality through better manure management.


Anonymous said...

Good Idea!

But biogas has to be produced only where it can be used, or at least be pumped into gas pipelines for fair prices.

It has to be purified, stored and compressed to make it usable in cars, which got equipped with high pressure gas tanks.

Michael A. Gregory said...

It can either be used to produce electricity where it is at or it can be purified and injected into the natural gas pipeline. The Vermont Cow Power program is an example of using it to make electricity on site with the excess sold back to the grid. I saw an article some time back that PG&E was purchasing biogas, purifying it and injecting it into the pipeline. So there are examples of different uses out there.

Biogas Steve said...

It is good to read about leigislation to improve biogas plant uptake. Despite rising energy costs which on the face of it would mean that far more biogas plants would be going ahead, the increased difficulty in raising investment funds is holidng back the development of Anaerobic Digestion and many would-be operators are being held up, by a lack of willing investors.

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