Dairy digesters are a smart climate investment

February 10, 2023

Clean & Prosperous Washington is partnering with the Washington State Dairy Federation in support of SB 5551 / HB 1574, and asking the legislature to make an investment of $40 million in Climate Commitment Act funds to reduce methane at Washington dairies.

Why? Because as our lobbyist in Olympia, Isaac Kastama testified before the Senate Agriculture Committee, a similar program in California is both popular and impactful:

“Soon after the Climate Commitment Act passed, we chartered two trips to California, bringing over 100 Washington stakeholders to learn about their implementation of cap and trade and the program they called the California Climate Investments… One of the true discoveries was their Dairy Digester Research and Development Program. And why it was so interesting is because it was very popular… Not only popular but impactful.” 

In fact, The California Air Resources Board reports that their dairy digester program is the most cost-effective program they have implemented – using just over 2% of California’s climate investments while producing nearly 30% of the state’s greenhouse gas reduction. It is reducing carbon emissions at less than $10 per ton.

Here in Washington, companies like Promus Energy recognize the promise of dairy digesters not only for reducing methane emissions but also for producing carbon-negative renewable energy. Dan Evans, President of Promus Energy testified,

“Already on our renewable natural gas project in the Yakima Valley, with 5,000 cows, we’re producing about a million gasoline-gallon-equivalents of renewable natural gas for transportation fuel. Dairy digesters produce a lot of bang for the buck.”

Fourth-generation dairy farmer Jason Sheehan testified why he and his wife Carrie support SB 5551,

“As a multi generational dairy farmer, I’m committed to good stewardship to sustaining land, air and water resources and the economic viability of our dairy farm for years to come.”

Dairy farmer Austin Allred described a system his ranch installed, and why he supports SB 5551,

According to Jay Gordon, Policy Director for the Washington State Dairy Federation, 

“There are approximately 270,000 dairy cows in Washington state and just a small fraction of dairies are currently using digesters, in part because of the high cost of installation and conversion.”  

With funding from Climate Commitment Act allowance auction revenues, Washington can support our state’s dairies with a grant program for dairy digester development.  Additionally, the program can incentivize more efficient and effective recovery of methane for energy from other sources of organic waste streams like food processing waste. 

You too can testify in support of SB 5551 & HB 1574, and ask the legislature to invest in dairy digesters to reduce methane at Washington dairies. Click HERE to comment on SB 5551, and HERE to comment on HB 1574.

During his testimony to the Senate Agriculture Committee, Promus President Dan Evans said, “I want to tip my hat to the Clean & Prosperous Washington study missions that gave us a great basis for providing the foundation for this bill.” Join us on our next study mission, this time to Montreal and Quebec City in May.

Clean & Prosperous Washington is a project of the Washington Business Alliance.
Contact us at info@cleanprosperouswa.com