On an early August afternoon at Pinnacle Dairy, a farm located near the middle of California’s long Central Valley, 1,300 Jersey cows idle in the shade of open-air barns. Above them whir fans the size of satellites, circulating a breeze as the temperature pushes 100F (38C). Underfoot, a wet layer of feces emits a thick stench that hangs in the air. Just a tad unpleasant, the smell represents a potential goldmine.

The energy industry is transforming mounds of manure into a lucrative “carbon negative fuel” capable of powering everything from municipal buses to cargo trucks. To do so, it’s turning to dairy farms, which offer a reliable, long-term supply of the material. Pinnacle is just one of hundreds across the state that have recently sold the rights to their manure to energy producers.

Communities around the world have long generated electricity from waste, but the past few years have seen a surge in public and private investment into poop-to-energy infrastructure in the US. Though so far concentrated in states with dominant dairy sectors, like California, Wisconsin and New York, Biden’s landmark climate law passed last summer stands to unleash additional billions to support further development nationwide. The sector’s boosters describe it as an elegant way to cut emissions from both livestock and transport; but critics worry that the nascent industry could raise more issues than it resolves by entrenching environmentally harmful practices.

Animal agriculture is the nation’s single biggest source of methane, a greenhouse gas that climate scientists call a “super pollutant” due to its high short-term warming potential. The gas is released from animals when they burp, and through the decomposition of manure when collected in open-air ponds, a common livestock industry practice.

But those emissions are also a potential moneymaker. Methane from animal waste can be purified into a product virtually indistinguishable from fossil fuel-based natural gas. Marketed as renewable natural gas (RNG), it has a unique profit-making edge: in addition to revenue from the sale of the gas itself, energy companies can now also earn handsome environmental subsidies for their role in keeping methane out of the atmosphere.

In early 2020, an energy firm called Aemetis inked a 20-year contract to capture methane from Pinnacle’s manure and turn it into RNG. Aemetis installed a digester on the dairy, which collects the farm’s waste in a concrete-lined pool and captures the gas it releases. The company plans to upgrade it into renewable natural gas at its nearby refining facility, before transporting it to gas stations across the state.

“This is something that’s going to be on every dairy in the future,” said Jessica Cardoso, project coordinator at Aemetis.

Cardoso was raised on a dairy farm in California but, growing up, had no idea about the potential of cow manure. She predicts that natural gas and dairy production will soon go hand in hand.

Over the past few years, energy giants like Shell, BP and Chevron have all announced similar dairy industry partnerships. In California, the country’s top dairy-producing state, officials estimated that over a hundred publicly supported manure digesters were slated to go online by the end of last year. Less than a decade earlier, in comparison, just six such projects were in the works. Nationally, the number of planned and operational RNG production facilities at livestock and agricultural operations jumped by over 36% in 2021 compared to the year prior.

Cows in California landscape.
Frank Konyn Dairy farm in Escondido, California. Photograph: Ariana Drehsler/AFP/Getty Images

But some watchers of the biogas boom worry that monetizing avoided emissions could backfire. Environmental justice and animal welfare groups are campaigning against subsidies for the industry and raising questions about the challenges posed by digester technology. For one, digesters can and do leak. They also only mitigate about half of the methane problem posed by the dairy industry. While digesters capture emissions from manure, they do nothing to resolve the issue of emissions from cow burps, which, in California, produce roughly the same amount of methane emissions as manure.

But the heart of their concerns is the question about whether or not renewable natural gas generated from dairy farms is truly carbon negative. The answer depends on how you tell the story of its production.

Under California’s clean fuels policies, energy producers must reduce the carbon footprint of transportation fuel every year. Where fuels – such as gasoline and diesel – exceed the targets, producers have to buy credits to offset their excess emissions. Producers whose fuels are deemed to have extremely low carbon footprints can generate and sell valuable credits for every ton of emissions they help avoid.

The biggest winner under this system is RNG from dairy farms, which consistently receives not only the lowest carbon footprint scores across all fuel types, but also some of the only negative ones. Carbon-negative fuels are considered to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

It’s on this flattering grading system that energy producers like Aemetis can earn avoided methane credits for every unit of energy produced from cow manure. The more they produce, the higher the payoffs.

When assigning a carbon footprint to RNG fuel, regulators don’t factor in any of the emissions associated with producing manure in the first place, such as the transport and raising of animals. This is not the case for many other renewable fuels, whose assigned carbon footprints take into account all greenhouse gases released during their production.

This discrepancy is rooted in the assumption that manure is not produced deliberately; it is an inevitable byproduct of the dairy industry. So, the thinking goes, when energy companies intervene to capture methane and convert it into fuel, that process results in a net reduction in emissions.

But not everyone sees it this way. Some agricultural economists point out that existing climate policies have turned manure into a revenue source in and of itself, similar to cheese or butter. By giving manure its own inherent value, climate regulators have turned it from waste into a commodity.

“Once you pay a cattle producer for their manure, you are effectively subsidizing the production of that manure,” said Richard Plevin, consultant and former researcher at the University of California, Berkeley. “You’ve altered the economics of cattle production.”

Some climate researchers worry that incentives for methane capture have become so generous that they may increase manure production in the long run. Taken to an extreme, some worry dairy farms could end up turning into feces farms that happen to also produce dairy.

Kevin Fingerman, an associate professor on energy and climate at the California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt, published a study in 2022 – commissioned by science advocacy group, Union of Concerned Scientists – that scrutinized the risk of these unintended consequences in California.

He found that revenue from methane capture alone could, in some cases, make up almost 40% of total profits for mid- and large-sized dairy farms in California. When revenue from methane capture begins to eclipse that from dairy production itself, the study warned, it could end up incentivizing farms to increase herd sizes to produce more manure.

Biogas, methane collected from dairy farms, is piped into a cleaning facility at the Calgren facility in Pixley, California.
Biogas, methane collected from dairy farms, is piped into a cleaning facility at the Calgren facility in Pixley, California. Photograph: Mike Blake/Reuters

The study only looked at California’s clean fuels policies, but most dairy RNG producers can also profit off a parallel federal program – the Renewable Fuel Standard, which requires transportation fuel producers to meet certain renewable fuel targets, either through producing it themselves, or buying credits off those who do. Benefiting from both gives energy producers a valuable financial cushion.

Were California climate regulators to recognize manure as an intentionally produced material, like corn grown for ethanol, then its carbon intensity score would increase significantly to reflect everything from the greenhouse gases involved with producing feed to the emissions released from cow burps.

The California Air Resources Board (Carb), which oversees the state’s clean fuels programs, defended its approach. Dairy digesters are responsible for a significant share of methane emission reductions in the livestock sector, Dave Clegern, public information officer for the agency pointed out. He added: “We do not have any evidence that shows the [policy] is causing a higher amount of manure to be produced in California.” (One reason there may not be any such evidence yet is because the RNG industry is still in the early stages of development.)

At the same time, the agency has indicated an awareness that its subsidies might be overly generous. Last November, it sought feedback on the future of its clean fuel policies, including the possibility of eliminating avoided methane credits for dairy-based RNG by 2040. The suggestion sparked vocal outcry from energy industry representatives, who warned that it would unravel the sector’s progress toward climate targets. In contrast, environmental justice groups welcomed such a phaseout, though some like the Union of Concerned Scientists worried it might be “too little too late”.

The sharply divided response underscored the ongoing tension that arises when climate solutions attempt to balance environmental benefits with industry bottom lines.

Looking ahead to 2023, some policy analysts are skeptical that the agency will significantly overhaul its own clean fuel policies. “There are so many vested interests,” Plevin said. “There are billions of dollars on the line if the numbers are changed.”

It also may not matter. Carb’s policies have already been replicated by other regions and countries, setting off a frenzy for more manure-to-energy projects that now extends beyond California.

Back in the Golden state, energy producers are still moving forward with digester development. Aemetis, for example, is in the midst of building out a biogas labyrinth in its corner of California’s Central Valley. The company plans to construct digesters on dozens more dairy farms over the next few years, all daisy chained together and connected to HQ via a private pipeline.

When I visited Pinnacle Dairy in August, the farm’s digester was still under construction, and its manure ponds were uncovered. Before we left, I leaned over to get a closer look at one of them, watching as tiny gas bubbles rose to the murky brown surface. Some of them clumped together and others floated alone. Eventually they all popped, releasing the methane into the hot afternoon air.

This story was reported with support from the UC Berkeley-11th Hour Food and Farming Journalism Fellowship


  1. Artificial intelligence creates content for the site, no worse than a copywriter, you can also use it to write articles. 100% uniqueness,5-day free trial of Pro Plan :). Click Here:👉 https://dakelin.ru/news/promokod_143.html

  2. Ирригатор (также известен как оральный ирригатор, ирригатор полости рта или дентальная водяная нить) – это устройство, используемое для очистки полости рта. Оно представляет собой насадку с форсункой, которая использует воду или жидкость для очистки полости рта. Ирригаторы применяются для удаления зубного камня, бактерий и насадок из полости рта, а также для смягчения любых застывших остатков пищи и органических отходов. Ирригаторы применяются для профилактики и лечения различных патологий полости рта. Наиболее распространенные ирригаторы используются для удаления зубного камня, лечения десны, профилактики и лечения воспалений десен, а также для лечения пародонтита. Кроме того, ирригаторы используются для анестезии полости рта, а также для применения антибактериальных препаратов.. Click Here:👉 https://www.irrigator.ru/irrigatory-cat.html

  3. You have observed very interesting points! ps nice site.

  4. Hi, Neat post. There is an issue along with your site in web
    explorer, may test this? IE nonetheless is the market chief and a good section of other people
    will pass over your magnificent writing due to this problem.

  5. I for all time emailed this web site post page to all my
    friends, because if like to read it then my friends will too.

  6. Check Out Amazin News Website Daily Worldwide [url=https://sepornews.xyz]Best News Website[/url]

  7. It’s hard to find knowledgeable people on this topic, but you sound like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

  8. No deposit bonus from https://zkasin0.site connect your wallet and enter promo code [3wedfW234] and get 0.7 eth + 100 free spins, Withdrawal without limits

  9. I am often to blogging and i really appreciate your content. The article has really peaks my interest. I am going to bookmark your site and keep checking for new information.

  10. You can definitely see your enthusiasm in the paintings you write. The arena hopes for more passionate writers like you who aren’t afraid to say how they believe. Always go after your heart. “He never is alone that is accompanied with noble thoughts.” by Fletcher.

  11. I like this post, enjoyed this one thanks for posting. “The universe is not hostile, nor yet is it unfriendly. It is simply indifferent.” by John Andrew Holmes.

  12. Dileep Seinberg, the founder and CEO of MuffinPay, believes, “Bitcoin’s price action movement depends upon macroeconomic factors including inflationary concerns and rate hikes by the U.S. Federal Reserve and the other central banks. Other than this, receding fears of economic slowdown or recession may also impact the Bitcoin prices.” Data also provided by Dileep Seinberg, the founder and CEO of MuffinPay, believes, “Bitcoin’s price action movement depends upon macroeconomic factors including inflationary concerns and rate hikes by the U.S. Federal Reserve and the other central banks. Other than this, receding fears of economic slowdown or recession may also impact the Bitcoin prices.” Cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and ethereum generate a lot of interest from would-be investors. But before you jump on the nearest crypto exchange, it is important to understand what you are investing in, the opportunities and the pitfalls. This beginners’ guide to cryptocurrency aims to give you the information that you need, including: What is
    Available now to select U.S. users1 starting today and rolling out to all eligible U.S. customers in the coming weeks, this new functionality lets PayPal customers: The Nodle Cash app uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), limiting the impact on your smartphone’s battery. As a result, the average consumption is only 1-3% of your daily battery. For this step you’ll need to send your coins to your Ethereum address. Just like you need an email address to receive emails, you have an Ethereum address to receive Ethereum. The address is a long string of characters and numbers that start with 0x and looks something like this: 0x123f681646d4a755815f9cb19e1acc8565a0c2ac. You can retrieve your ETH address from your Ethereum wallet. To recall an earlier point, Ethereum is transparent: anyone can view the transaction history and balance of any user account. Likewise, anyone can view the interaction history, balance, and code of a smart contract application. If a user prompts a smart contract to perform an operation, this interaction becomes a fact that is forever recorded in Ethereum’s public records and can be recalled and inspected by anyone. So how is it that a user can deposit into a Tornado Cash pool and later withdraw to a different address without creating an obvious link to anyone observing Ethereum’s public records?

  13. Words by Max Berlinger, Photography by Shaniqwa Jarvis Depending on the online poker site, you can also set up a private invitation-only ring game. Many online poker sites are also willing to allow private poker games with no rakes. Just tell them what private poker game format you would like to hold and they will take care of the rest. Poker players can typically access poker sites from a variety of states. No poker player has been pursued or prosecuted by the U.S. government for playing online poker, and it’s not likely to happen in the future. States often word their laws ambiguously, not giving their courts any reason to interpret online poker legality one way or another. See how research by RAND women helps change the world Player PromotionsWe are a community-focused brand, therefore we aim to offer you the best possible promotions in an online poker industry. We are proud to have given away a Tesla, thousands of USDT, ETH, BTC and millions in CHP already, and it’s just the beginning of what’s to come!
    Play with no restrictions! Deposit $500 and play with $700. Not a big bonus, but with NO WAGERING REQUIREMENTS for best odds to beat the casino this time! Fixed $500 deposit only. Pointcalculation system will be done in the following way:– Bonus free deposits (no bonus is attached) – $100 wagered = 3 pts– Bonus deposits (bonus is attached to the deposit) – $100 wagered = 1 pts– Free bonus (wagering without a made deposit), and alternative deposit (anything except LTC deposits) wagering will not be considered into point calculation. Casino extreme is the BEST !!! ABD Federal Soruşturma Bürosu Başkanı ve İngiltere İç İstihbarat Servisi Başkanı, ilk kez beraber açıklama yaptı. Batı’nın güvenliğine yönelik en tehlikeli uzun vadeli tehdidin Çin olduğu uyarısında…

  14. Sign up with promo code 1xBet and get a €/$130 bonus. Play sports betting, virtual sports and casino. valid throughout 2023. 1xBet is offering a $130 welcome bonus to new customers. To receive the bonus, players must register on the 1xBet website, deposit money into their account, and confirm their right to receive the bonus. The bonus is then automatically credited to the player’s account. Thanks to the bonus code, the player’s chances are instantly increased by 130%. 1xbet singaporeAdditional bonuses offered under the same conditions that apply to the main package bonus must be earned.

  15. One of your goals is to evoke a strong sense of familiarity and appreciation in the reader. If your reader can walk away from the essay craving the very pizza you just described, you are on your way to writing effective descriptive essays. In descriptive writing, the author uses many different devices to make the reader feel as if they are right there experiencing the work. This is often done with metaphors and similes, which create a vivid picture in the reader’s mind. The goal of descriptive writing is to transport the reader into the story or experience so that they can understand it better. Just like other papers, your descriptive essay will have an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Your essay will help you create each of these. Descriptive essays are based more on “show” than “tell” — giving readers a visual idea of the subject. For example, a “tell” sentence would be, “The sun disappeared into the water.” The same sentence in “show” mode might read, “The setting sun disappeared in a blaze of red and gold glory, swallowed up, it would seem, by the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean.” Through vivid depictions, the writer conveys to readers individual impressions based on emotions or perceptions.
    A thesis represents an investment with an uncertain return, mostly because its life-changing aspects have to do with process. Maybe it’s the last time your most harebrained ideas will be taken seriously. Everyone deserves to feel this way. This is especially true given the stories from many college campuses about the comparatively lower number of women, first-generation students, and students of color who pursue optional thesis work. For these students, part of the challenge involves taking oneself seriously enough to ask for an unfamiliar and potentially path-altering kind of mentorship. A large project that supports professional qualification or an academic degree is named a thesis paper. Theses are used to support, detail, and summarize a degree candidate’s research and findings. The complexity, length, and amount of time spent to perform such a work can vary by the type of degree, the university, or the academic program a degree candidate enrolls in.

  16. Woh I like your articles, saved to bookmarks! .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *