ABC briefs Senate staff on benefits of biogas energy, fuels

By Erin Voegele | December 16, 2019

Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Senator Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and the minority staff of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee held a briefing for U.S. Senate staff addressing the climate benefits of farm-based renewable energy and advanced biofuels. The briefing speakers included Patrick Serfass, executive director of the American Biogas Council; Mike Bergey, president of Bergey Windpower; Patrick Gruber, CEO of Gevo; and Stephanie Batchelor, vice president of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization. Carol Werner, director emeritus and senior policy fellow of the Environmental and Energy Study Institute, moderated the briefing.

Industry leaders highlighted the UDSA role in the deployment of renewable energy and expanded accessibility to advanced biofuels, renewable chemicals, and biobased products. Biogas systems produce renewable energy or fuels and are especially important to deploy on farms because their benefits stretch beyond just low or negative carbon energy. Biogas systems diversify a farmer’s income by converting waste streams into revenue sources, manage odor, manure and nutrients, and build better communities because of the multifaceted way they interact with the neighboring area.

“If we act now, America can position rural communities as a central actor in our response to climate change. Using renewable energy and fuels from biogas will help us achieve significant climate benefits while also strengthening on-farm economies,” said the ABC’s Serfass during his remarks. “We are especially grateful to the leadership of Ranking Member Stabenow for reaching across the Senate to highlight the role farms currently play to protect our environment and how advanced technologies can do even more.”

This briefing builds on an earlier Committee hearing, at which the ABC testified on the implementation of the Farm Bill Energy Title programs. Farm Bill Energy Title programs support the digester industry by providing grants, loan guarantees and other assistance for the development of biogas projects. These projects convert waste streams such as animal manure and farm residuals into renewable energy, fuels, chemicals, and high performance soil products. Offering additional income streams to farmers is exceptionally valuable during these difficult times in the agricultural economy.