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Qiwei Fu

Professor Peterson
Writing 39C
First Draft Advocacy Essay
Methane has long been a byproduct of Livestock production for as long as animal
cultivation existed. However, it was minimal and not of concern until the last century or so, where
methane production by agriculture in the United States has been increasing exponentially and
shows no sign of slowing down. Livestock agriculture in the United States produce an
disproportionally large amount of methane gas every year in contrast to other sectors that emits
methane pollution, the 213.1 MMTCDE (million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents) of
methane emitted by animal agriculture in 2008 is 16 percent more than all natural gas operations
in the United States combined, 61.5 percent more than all coal mining operations, and only 28
percent less than emissions from the entire energy sector"(Verhuel, 2011). Without a doubt,
livestock operation is one of the biggest producer of methane. The problem with the large amount
of methane produced by animal cultivation is that methane is one of the most potent greenhouse
gas. According to the EPA, methane gas contributes to 8% of all greenhouse gas emission.(EPA,
2013) While it is a small percentage of all the greenhouse gas, Methane (CH4) is more than 20
times as effective as CO2 at trapping heat in the atmosphere(EPA), making methane gas one of
the biggest contributor to global warming. In other words, livestock production in the US is a huge
culprit behind global warming. The good news is that methane pollution can be dramatically

reduced and even create renewable energy at the same time by implementing methane digesters.
California have already taken initiative to implement methane digester to reduce methane
emission. The Dairy Power Production Plan put forth by the California Energy Commission is one of
the best solution to curb methane pollution from livestock agriculture, it already helped many
farm implement methane digesters and gained very positive results so far.
The goal of DPPP is to help farms to install methane digesters and make methane
digesters a more common occurrence in farms. In order to understand the effectiveness of the
DPPP as well as how methane digester can reduce methane pollution, we must first understand
the background behind the increase of methane emission. The dramatic increase of methane is
due to the fact that traditional farm are replaced with CAFOs (concentrated animal feed
operation) due to larger profit. However, CAFOs are more polluting for the environment than
traditional farms. John Verhuel, in his research paper regarding methane and CAFOs explains that
traditional farm where cows graze on grass field and other crops can use the manure to fertilize
the land and its crops, thus maintaining a self-sustained community where no energy is lost and
converted to methane. CAFO do not have the luxury of a traditional farm, the large amount of
manure produced by a large number of livestock in a concentrated place calls for a wet method
of manure management. Verhuel further explains that waste sits in the storage lagoons for
extended periods of time. Fermentation in these lagoons has generated most of the increase in
animal agriculture methane emissions over the past two decades. (Verhuel, 2011) Wet manure
management is the reason behind the huge increase of methane emission. The DPPP, whose plan
is to implement methane digesters, counters and fixes the issue with wet manure management
directly and even creates a self-sustaining environment where renewable energy is created.

DPPPs decision to implement methane digesters to CAFOs creates renewable energy from
manures using anaerobic digesters, using energy created on site and at the same time reducing
the production of Greenhouse gas is a very promising solution. How does all this work? Well,
Verhuel explains that "Anaerobic digesters" compost organic waste in a machine that limits
access to oxygen and encourages the generation of methane and CO2 by the microbes in the
waste itself. This gas is then burned as fuel to make electricity.(Verhuel, 2011) This method allows
for an active creation and containment of methane instead of a passive creation of methane from
fermentation and leading to pollution. This directly reduce the amount of methane that is released
into air by wet manure management, eliminating the biggest source of methane pollution from
CAFOs. Verhuel also comment on the added benefit of this approach, stating that An added
benefit not related to methane, but germane to greenhouse gas emissions in general, is that if
farms could generate their own electricity this way, they could also reduce their overall load on
the power grid.(Verhuel, 2011) This is significant because not only does farm become selfsustaining, it lowers the pollution a power plant would create in order to create the power used by
a farm on the power grid. By implementing anaerobic digesters to create renewable energy from
methane, we can directly cut down methane emission from manure as well as reducing power
usage and thus further reducing pollution, a very effective way of reducing global warming.
Because methane digesters the most effective method of reducing methane from farm,
the California Energy Commission created the Dairy Power Production Program to help farms
implement methane digester. The objective of the DPPP program is to developing commercially
proven biogas electricity systems to help California dairies offset the purchase of electricity and
provide environmental benefits.(CEC, 2009). This program have a funding of 10 million dollar
which were used mainly for grants to participating farm that cover a percentage of the cost of

installation of a methane digester system. The cost of implementing of methane digesters differs
from farm to farm, the average cost of among the farm within the DPPP program is $1,065,538
for covered lagoon digesters, $930,335 for plug flow digesters, and $3,551,448 for the one
modifiedmix plug flow digester. The initial investment is quite large for methane digester, which
is responsible for the lack of methane digesters despite the readily available technology ready to
be tapped. The DPPP is created to specifically target that problem and to reduce that initial
investment through the grant. For example, DPPP granted Hilarides Dairy $500,000 for a new
covered lagoon digester, and Cottonwood Dairy was granted $600,000 for a new covered lagoon
digester. The grant covers up to 50% of the total cost of the system, thus making methane
digesters a more acceptable approach to reduce methane emission. The methane digesters also
benefits the farmer, as promised by DPPP, by generating electricity. The electricity generated by
the methane digesters makes a significant offset to the total electrical power bought from utility
company. For example, according to the program report by California Energy Commission,
Koetsier Dairy, a participating dairy in the DPPP program, uses 55,265 KWh per month from the
power grid for main Dairy operation (CEC,2009), however, with the methane digesters generating
power, the dairy only uses 11,150 kWh from the grid, seeing a 80% drop in the usage of electricity.
This allows for extra profit due to lower cost of operation, which will help paying off the
investment as well as extra revenue for when the investment is fully paid off. Castelanelli Bros is
another Dairy that participated in the DPPP, they managed to generate 87,887 kWh per month,
while only using 70,000 (CEC, 2009), they have excess electricity that they can sell for revenue as
well as have all the operation electricity covered. This shows that it is possible to generate excess
power for sale. The generated power serves as a great incentive for future farmer to adopt this
technology, saving the planet as well as making more profit. The DPPP uses creates plenty of

incentive for farmers to implement methane digesters, through both grants and increased
revenue from power generation, making the wise spread use of methane digesters a possibility.

Many studies has been done on the benefit of implementing methane digesters on CAFOs.
Deanne M. Camara Ferreira, JD from Widener University, advocates strongly for the
implementation of methane digesters on CAFOs due to the benefits resulting from using such
system. Ferreira assess that (1) reduce dairy and livestock CAFOs manure methane outputs by
80%; (2) provide for all or nearly all the CAFOs energy needs, displacing daily demands on electric
utility grids; (3) provide for the heating needs of the CAFOs, i.e., hot water for daily washing of
barns and milking equipment, thereby displacing the demands on gas utilities for heated water; (4)
abate flies and odor; and (5) generate to farmer producers of energy additional revenue from
excess energy sold, RECs and carbon credits. (Ferreira, 2010) Ferreiras assessments of benefit
form methane digesters make very strong incentive and prediction of results from the
implementation of methane digesters as well as the overall effectiveness of DPPP once majority of
the farm in U.S follow the guideline of DPPP and implements methane digesters. 80% drop of
methane emission from CAFOs will have a profound effect on global warming considering CAFOs
produce a large portion of all methane pollution, achieving the goal of DPPP. Methanes high
potency as a greenhouse gas its relatively short lifespan in the atmosphere means that this
reduction from utilizing methane digesters will have an immediate positive impact on Global
Warming, making DPPP a very efficient and fast acting plan for Global Warming. Ferreira also
mentions the benefit of reducing electricity cost as well as lowering electrical grid demand, which
means reducing pollution from energy sectors, agreeing with benefits mentioned by Verhuel, as
well as highlighting the possible effect of DPPP to create a huge renewable energy sector to

reduce pollution if it were to be implemented throughout the country. The ability of methane
digesters to provide heating for the farm also cut down on the natural resource needed for
heating, making the farm even more environmentally friendly and self-sustaining. The reduction of
unpleasant odor from manure management allows the farm to be more neighborhood friendly,
and less flies lowers the potential for diseases. Lastly, the ability to sell excess electricity is quite
lucrative for many farmers, it could bring an increase of revenue. If DPPP were to be implemented
throughout the country, it can provide all those benefits, dramatically reducing global warming as
well as making US a greener country.

Yes, the initial cost for implementing a methane digesters can be a steep investment,
which will deter many farmers who might be interest if it wasnt so expensive, which is what DPPP
addresses by providing grants and incentive of a long term revenue. In the near future, DPPP
might be the most cost effective way to run a CAFOs due to the possible future trend of
regulations towards methane pollution. Regulations and rules can be established to mandate
farms to have methane digesters in order to reduce methane emission, in fact Verhuel states that
under the Clean Air Act, The EPA thus has the authority and, in fact, is required to list methane as
a criteria pollutantUnder section 110, once the EPA has promulgated standards for criteria
pollutants, each state must then develop and implement a state implementation plan (Verhuel,
2011). If the EPA decides to regulate the methane emission, which they should, mandates can be
passed to require farms and CAFOs to achieve certain benchmark on methane emission or they
will be fined. The government already have all the tools to regulate the farms, they just need to
take action. Combining the possible grant, the reduction of cost of operations, as well as the

possibility of a pollution fine, DPPP is definitely the way to go for CAFOs to adopt methane
North Carolina also attempted to implement methane digesters with a good amount of
success, but not quite as successful as DPPP. North Carolina passed a unique legislation that took
effect in 2012 that required Power Company to derive a portion of its renewable energy to be
from swine and chicken manure. This created a demand for farms to create reusable energy from
methane digesters, where the farms can sell carbon credit to electrical company which fulfills the
regulation as well as cut down on methane pollutions. North Carolina farm Loyd Ray Farms was
one of the first few farm to tap into the renewable energy from manure using methane digesters.
Wendee Nichole in her article Pig power pays off claims that analyses of the Loyd Ray
experiment show that electricity generated from swine waste is competitive in the renewable
energy marketplace.(Nichole, 2014) Producing electricity at a competitive rate ensure that they
can sell the excess electricity for profit. This plan does achieve the same purpose as DPPP, but the
incentive for farmers to install methane digesters arent as high, because it targets the power
company, not the farmers directly. Only farmers with enough capital to invest a methane digesters
can benefit from this. The DPPP offers grants in order to help those farm who does not quite have
the capital to be able to gain methane digesters as well.
In conclusion, the DPPP provides a possibility of implementing methane digesters to large
amount of farms despite the large capitals required for methane digesters. Also, future regulation
can also turn DPPP into the most cost efficient plan for farmers to implement methane digesters.
In fact, the Clean Air Act already lays the ground work for regulation on methane emission from
CAFOs and farms. Methane digester will reduce the emission of methane into the atmosphere
from manure management by 80%, as well as saving pollution from energy sector due to power

generation as a renewable energy. DPPP should be implemented throughout US and will be a very
fast and effective way to curb global warming.

Work Cited
Us Epa, Oar, Climate Change Division. "US GHG Inventory 2014 Chapter Executive
Summary." Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2012 Executive
Summary (2014): n. pag. EPA. Web. 21 Nov. 2014.
Verhuel, John. "Methane as a Greenhouse Gas: Why the EPA Should Regulate Emissions from
Animal Feeding Operations and Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations Under the Clean Air
Act." Natural Resources Journal 51.1 (2011): 163-87. Legal Source. Web.21 Nov. 2014.
Ferreira, Deanne M. Camara. "Global Warming And Agribusiness: Could Methane Gas From Dairy
Cows Spark The Next California Gold Rush?." Widener Law Review 15.2 (2010): 541-577. Academic
Search Complete. Web. 21 Nov. 2014.
NICOLE, WENDEE. "Pig Power Pays Off." Discover 35.2 (2014): 58-60. Academic Search Complete.
Web. 21 Nov. 2014.
United States. California Energy Commission. Dairy Power Production Program. By Michael
Marsh. Modesto: Western United Resource Development, 2009. Print.