U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) introduced bipartisan legislation to encourage investment in biodigester and nutrient recovery systems, while establishing a market for farmers who already have a surplus of waste materials that can be used for biogas production. Thune and Brown’s bill, the Agricultural Environmental Stewardship Act, will help expand the market for renewable biogas by providing a 30 percent investment tax credit to help offset the upfront costs associated with building biodigester systems. U.S. Reps. Ron Kind (D-Wis.) and Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
“This bill is a commonsense solution to help South Dakota’s dairy producers, boost our economy, and better preserve our environment,” said Thune. “I’d like to thank Senator Brown and our colleagues in the House for this bipartisan effort to invest in sustainable biogas technology and American jobs, and I look forward to working to get this bill enacted into law.”
“Ohio farmers are struggling to safely dispose of livestock waste that could be used for renewable energy,” said Brown. “This legislation will encourage investment in the technology needed to convert these waste materials into renewable fuel that can be used to power farms, households, and businesses across the country. We need to do all we can to protect Lake Erie and our waterways, and this bill provides another tool to ensure clean water.”
Farmers across the country have a surplus of organic material like manure, food scraps, agricultural residue, and wastewater solids and liquids, all of which can be used to produce biogas that can be used to produce heat, electricity, and fuel and can be injected into natural gas pipelines. They can also be used to process wastewater up stream, which reduces runoff and containments that impact potable water in a number of communities.
“Sustainable manure management is just one example of how the agriculture sector is delivering innovative climate solutions,” said the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance. “Digester and nutrient recovery technologies can reduce methane emissions, improve soil fertility and water quality, and directly benefit a producer’s bottom line. Yet, the upfront costs to install these technologies often impede adoption. We applaud Senators Brown and Thune for reintroducing legislation that would make biogas and nutrient recovery systems more affordable.”
“The bipartisan Agriculture Environmental Stewardship Act recognizes the value that biogas systems can have for dairy producers of all sizes as they continuously improve their sustainability nationwide,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation. “This new investment tax credit also incorporates nutrient recovery technologies, which can transform manure into fertilizer for crops and bedding for cows. These technologies are important, but expensive. This bill will help farmers incorporate these new technologies into their operations, for the benefit of everyone.”
“The American Biogas Council applauds the leadership of Senator Sherrod Brown and John Thune in recognizing the importance of digesters and nutrient recovery technologies in helping farmers turn an environmental challenge into a sustainable opportunity,” said Patrick Serfass, executive director of the American Biogas Council. “Digesters and nutrient recovery technologies are materials management powerhouses and turn manure into energy and valuable soil amendments all the while reducing odor and protecting our air and water. This tax credit will provide a significant boost to agricultural producers wanting to invest in this impactful technology.”
The Agricultural Environmental Stewardship Act promotes investment by making biodigesters eligible for a 30 percent investment tax credit that other renewable energy sources are already eligible for. This credit would allow South Dakota dairy farms, and other businesses, to increase the number of biodigesters throughout rural America by significantly reducing the upfront cost. Farms and other biodigester operators would be able to use digesters or other biological, chemical, thermal, or mechanical processes to make biogas that is at least 52 percent methane, adding an immediate new revenue stream and dramatically decreasing pollution and runoff into waterways.