Agricultural Methane Proposals

Legislation needed to control methane from animal agriculture

Quizzical Holstein cow There are a number of proven methods for reducing methane generated from animal agriculture (manure): Anaerobic digesters and a variety of specific manure-handling practices that will reduce anaerobic conditions outside a digester or in the absence of one. The problem is that these methods are being adopted by far too few dairy farmers in order to meet California's legislatively mandated 40 percent reduction in manure methane by 2030—and a much greater reduction by 2045.

Climate Action California believes that legislation is needed to ensure that we meet the goals. Legislation can:

  • Establish increased and adequate funding resources for incentives, particularly for alternative manure management procedures, that are stable and can be counted upon by dairies. One possibility is to establish a fund that makes interest free loans for livestock methane reduction measures. Another is to include funds for dairy manure management in the “Climate Bond” being considered for the 2024 general election ballot.
  • Minimize air pollution from digesters. Digester funding and permitting must be calibrated to the air pollution conditions in the areas they will operate in. Less polluting digesters save money, too: The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has estimated  almost a $3 billion cost difference between using hydrogen fuel cells and internal combustion engines to power digesters, yet fuel cells are not required for the Department of Food and Agriculture's (CDFA's) dairy digester program.
  • Set a 20-year goal and use incentives to reduce or eliminate wet or lagoon-style manure management and replace it with “dry” management and associated methods.
  • Require regulation of the many aspects of dairy greenhouse gas emissions that complement incentive-based measures. These include required farm-scale measurement and monitoring of methane; regulation of nitrous oxide and ammonia from digesters; regulation to reduce/eliminate fugitive emissions from production of biomethane; and monitoring and regulating dairy methane emissions “hot spots."
  • Provide technical assistance to dairies in the highly complex ways of managing manure and the ammonia, N20 and methane it produces.
  • Establish a mandated enteric emissions (cow burps) control program if initial pilot incentive programs (funded in 2023) are not adopted by a large number of dairies. Require CARB to set out a schedule for voluntary uptake; if goals are not met then CARB must regulate to meet the schedule.