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REW Staff June 5, 2014

American Biogas Council applauds Obama Administration’s methane reduction strategy

President Barack Obama’s administration has released a strategy for reducing methane as part of the administration’s Climate Action Plan. The Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions summarizes the sources of methane emissions, commits to new steps to cut emissions and outlines the administration’s efforts to improve the measurement of these emissions.

The American Biogas Council (ABC), Washington, D.C., has applauded the announcement of the new national plan, since the construction and operation of new biogas systems will play a critical role. The ABC also says it expects the need for biogas systems to grow.

“Biogas systems convert organic materials which might otherwise be the source of methane emissions in landfills or lagoons,” the association says in a written statement. “Biogas plants process these materials in a controlled, fully enclosed, natural biological system that not only captures the methane to create renewable electricity and fuel, but also produce valuable, nutrient-rich soil amendments that reduce the need for synthetic fertilizers. The move to reduce national methane emissions translates to support for the growth of the U.S. biogas industry, the primary mission of the American Biogas Council.”

The administration’s strategy builds on progress to date and takes steps to further cut methane emissions from landfills, coal mining, agriculture and oil and gas systems through what it says are cost-effective voluntary actions and common-sense standards. Key steps include:

  • proposed updated standards from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reduce methane from new landfills and public comment opportunities regarding existing landfills;
  • gathering of public input by the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on the development of a program for the capture and sale or disposal of waste methane from coal mines on lands leased by the federal government;
  • joint release of a “Biogas Roadmap” from the dairy industry, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), EPA and Department of Energy (DOE) outlining voluntary strategies to accelerate the adoption of methane digesters and other cost-effective technologies to reduce U.S. dairy sector greenhouse gas emissions; and
  • new actions to encourage additional cost-effective reductions of methane emissions in the oil and gas sector to build on existing programs.

According to the Obama administration, emissions of methane make up nearly 9 percent of all the greenhouse gas emitted as a result of human activity in the United States. Since 1990, methane pollution in the United States has decreased by 11 percent, even as activities that can produce methane have increased. However, methane pollution is projected to increase to a level equivalent to over 620 million tons of carbon dioxide pollution in 2030 if no additional action is taken to reduce emissions.

“Because biogas systems provide a host of additional important benefits—renewable energy, soil nutrient recycling, localized waste solutions and new jobs—growth of the biogas industry is one of the best ways to reduce national methane emissions,” the statement continues.

The ABC says it counts 2,000 operational biogas systems in the U.S. and estimates the market potential for 12,000 new biogas systems.

 

Durham Energy Recovery joins Canadian plastics association

Durham Energy Recovery Inc. (DERI), based in Airdrie, Alberta, has joined the Alberta Plastics Recycling Association (APRA). DERI is building a facility to convert scrap plastics into diesel fuel.

The plant, proposed to be built and operating by the spring of 2015, will take plastic, collected from municipalities and farm operations, among other sources and through a process called thermal degradation will convert the plastics into three products: diesel fuel, hydrocarbon gas and carbon black.

Transportation-quality diesel fuel is expected to be 65 percent of the byproduct of the process, while hydrocarbon gas will be used to fuel the plant, while carbon black can be sold to road construction companies and tire and rubber pipe manufacturers.

“By using the hydrocarbon gas to fuel the plant after the initial heating phase it will be a self-sustaining plant,” says Peter Brown, president of Durham Energy. “It is environmentally friendly because it operates in an oxygen-deprived environment, so no combustion is used in the process, and there are no harmful emissions.” Furthermore, Brown says there is local demand for the byproducts.

The company reports it is forming five-year supply agreements with municipalities to acquire plastics.

The plant will be able to convert up to 20,000 metric tons of plastic into about 20 to 26 million liters of diesel a year, DERI says.

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