Environmental Protection

Jackson, Vilsack Promote Farm Energy Generation

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson and U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack have agreed to promote renewable energy generation and slashing greenhouse gas emissions from livestock operations.

The agreement expands the work of the AgStar program, a joint EPA-USDA effort that helps livestock producers reduce methane emissions from their operations.

"This is a smart way to transform what would be a harmful greenhouse pollutant into a source of renewable energy—and make a profit for American farmers," said Jackson. "We have the technology and the expertise, all we need now is to act. The AgStar program brings real benefits to our air and creates new opportunities for our farming community."

EPA and USDA’s enhanced collaboration will provide up to $3.9 million over the next five years to help the farms overcome obstacles preventing them from recovering and using biogas. The collaboration will expand technical assistance efforts, improve technical standards and guidance for the construction and evaluation of biogas recovery systems, and expand outreach to livestock producers and assist them with pre-feasibility studies.

Biogas is composed primarily of methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Biogas emitted from manure management systems called digesters can be collected and used to produce electricity, heat or hot water. Due in large part to AgStar’s efforts, about 150 on-farm manure digesters are now operating at livestock facilities across the United States. An estimated 8,000 farms are good candidates for capturing and using biogas.

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