US’s new climate law may grow controversial biogas industry

A thriving but contentious sector that aims to capture gases from rotting food and farm waste and transform them into fuel and other sources of energy may benefit from U.S. President Joe Biden’s climate law.

New tax credits are included in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which Biden signed on Tuesday, for businesses that create equipment, such as anaerobic digesters, to capture methane emissions from landfills or animal waste lagoons and transform them into natural gas, electricity, and heat. The biogas sector claims that this technology is essential for achieving the country’s climate goals.

According to Patrick Serfass, executive director of the American Biogas Council, “This law is arguably the most helpful piece of legislation that we have had in well over a decade, if not ever” (ABC).

Since on-farm manure digesters are frequently only financially feasible for large-scale farms, a number of environmental organizations have opposed the biogas business and in particular the installation of these facilities. According to the groups, additional credits for the sector could encourage large farms to expand, resulting in an increase in emissions and other environmental impacts including runoff into waterways.

According to Ruthie Lazenby, a staff attorney at the environmental justice clinic at Vermont Law School, “We’re in a time that truly necessitates big action on climate.” “It’s lot less obvious that biogas is actually a victory for the climate when you really get into the intricacies,”

Biogas systems that produce heat and natural gas are now eligible for tax credits under the bill, which were previously restricted to projects that produced electricity.

Additionally, it provides funding for the Rural Energy for America Program of the Department of Agriculture until 2027 and its Environmental Quality Incentives Program through 2026 totaling $8.45 billion. Both initiatives provide funding to farmers for the construction of costly manure digesters that collect emissions from animal waste.

Adam Comora, co-CEO of OPAL Fuels (OPAL.O), a biogas company with headquarters in New York, claimed that the rule might hasten the creation of a broader range of biogas projects.

According to Comora, “it might make smaller, marginal, more challenging initiatives economical.”

According to the media, there are currently 2,300 biogas projects in the US.

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