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Online AgSTAR Digest: Fall 2013

AgSTAR has not independently verified all information presented in the Digest. For further information on any particular item, please contact the source referenced.
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AgSTAR – We Want to Hear from You!

Current AgSTAR Website

Current AgSTAR Website

EPA is evaluating the AgSTAR website to determine how to support the needs of AgSTAR program partners and stakeholders. This includes determining the usefulness of several communication tools, including the AgSTAR Digest and the RSS News Feed. We want to know the best methods for sharing valuable information with you. Please send your feedback to agstar@epa.gov and let us know how you want to continue receiving information. Also, please feel free to provide feedback on the organization of the AgSTAR website and how we can better meet your technical and informational needs.

Become an AgSTAR Partner Today!

AgSTAR's Partner program helps AgSTAR collaborate with state agencies, agricultural extension offices, universities, and other state-wide non-governmental organizations to promote the planning, deployment, and long-term success of anaerobic digester projects. AgSTAR Partners receive technical, marketing, and networking assistance in return for their commitment. The Partnership is a great opportunity to network with and hear about other state activities, get feedback from peers through regularly-scheduled webinars, and help impact the AgSTAR program. To learn more about the program, please visit http://www.epa.gov/agstar/about-us/partners/index.html.

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U.S. Climate Action Plan

Progress: Since 1990, methane emissions have decreased by eight percent, in part through partnerships with industry. The Plan: The Environmental Protection Agency and the Departments of Agriculture, Interior, Labor, and Transportation will develop and implement a comprehensive interagency methane strategy. Moving Forward: The Obama Administration will work collaboratively with state governmennts and the private sector to reduce emissions across multiple sectors improve air quality and achieve public health and economic benefits.

Highlights of the President’s Climate Action Plan

In June 2013, President Obama released the Climate Action Plan (June 2013), which outlined “steps the Administration will take – in partnership with states, local communities, and the private sector – to continue on a path to meeting the President’s 2020 goals” to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in the range of 17 percent below 2005 levels. The plan calls for reducing methane emissions by developing an interagency methane strategy and pursuing collaborative approaches to reducing emissions through programs such as AgSTAR.

Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy Sustainability Award Winner – Outstanding Achievement in Renewable Energy

Located in Krakow, Wisconsin, Green Valley Dairy boasts three anaerobic digesters and 3,500 cows. The three anaerobic digesters have the capacity to produce 1,200 kWh of “green” electricity. Most of the electricity produced is used on the dairy or sold to the local utility. Additional benefits include utilizing the reclaimed heat to warm the maternity and calf nursing areas and reclaiming and returning nearly all of the water to the dairy’s ecological system. 

In April 2013, the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy honored Green Valley Dairy as one of eight leaders in sustainability operations across the dairy supply chain. The use of the anaerobic digesters at the facility is a great acknowledgment of the versatility and benefits of the use of these systems. To read about the other seven award winners, visit the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards or for more information about Green Valley Dairy, see the AgSTAR Project Profile.

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RELCOST – Project Financial Analysis Tool Upgraded

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Northwest Clean Energy Application Center updated the RELCOST software tool in July 2013. This tool is a user-friendly Microsoft Excel spreadsheet used to evaluate the financial viability of energy projects. The tool offers three methods for evaluating financial performance: life cycle cost analysis, pro forma statements, and financial ratios. RELCOST is available online for download.

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AgSTAR National Conference Summary

AgSTAR National Conference in June 2013

AgSTAR National Conference in June 2013

AgSTAR hosted its seventh National Conference on June 10-12 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The conference started with a tour of Caterpillar Inc.’s Lafayette Engine Center and Fair Oaks Farms, which uses biogas to fuel their milk delivery trucks. The tour was followed by two days of conference sessions exploring some of the top issues affecting anaerobic digestion in the agricultural sector, including: the influence of California’s carbon market; optimizing revenue from anaerobic digestion system byproducts; uses for biogas beyond electricity; and assessing co-digestion for AD projects. If you missed this exciting event, conference materials are now available online.

Anaerobic Digester Projects REAP Benefits!

U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Secretary announced in August and September 2013 that more than 850 projects would receive funding support from the USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), including 6 projects involving anaerobic digestion. One example is Butler Farms in Lillington, N.C., which was selected to receive a $16,250 grant to upgrade an anaerobic digester system to produce electricity from the farm's waste stream! REAP is currently authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill, and commits an investment of more than $21 million in energy projects nationwide. Funding is provided to support feasibility studies, as well as provide direct grant and loan support to projects.

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On the Big Screen

“Cow Power: The Film” is now available online! This film features 2012 U.S. Dairy Sustainability Award winner Blue Spruce Farm and Sustainability Council member Foster Brothers Farm. Blue Spruce was the first dairy farm to participate in the successful Central Vermont Public Service's Cow Power program, which allows consumers to purchase renewable energy generated on a dairy farm. You can watch “Cow Power: The Film” anywhere from the comfort of your computer! Go to any of the following web platforms and search “Cow Power: The Film” to watch: Google PlayYouTube, iTunes, VUDU, ILoveDocs, or Amazon Instant.  *Please note that this film is not endorsed by U.S. EPA, but is provided for educational purposes for the audience.

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Coming to a College Near You

Biomass Magazine hosted a webinar in September 2013 titled, My Old School: How Anaerobic Digestion is Gaining Traction on American College Campuses. This webinar described how respective colleges and universities successfully implemented anaerobic digestion into campus energy portfolios and the resulting benefits, as well as challenges faced and future endeavors. An article about the webinar is available at www.biomassmagazine.com/articles/9401/biomass-magazine-webinar-highlights-biomass-power-on-campuses and the webinar will be archived on the website.

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Policy Updates

On August 6, 2013 EPA published the final rulemaking that establishes the volume requirements and associated percentage standards that apply under the RFS2 program in calendar year 2013 for cellulosic biofuel, biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel. The standards ensure that transportation fuel sold in the United State contains a minimum volume of renewable fuel as required by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Based on these standards and the 2013 volume requirements, about 10 percent of all fuel used in 2013 will be from renewable sources. 

Biogas from manure digesters can qualify for RINs under the “Advanced Biofuel” category, which has a volume requirement of 2.75 billion gallons for calendar year 2013. Additional information about the final standards is available on EPA’s website.

NY: Amendments have been adopted to 6 NYCRR Part 360 that allow agricultural anaerobic digestion facilities meeting certain requirements to accept non-manure feedstocks for co-digestion without requiring a solid waste permit. (In-depth information is available at: http://www.dec.ny.gov/regulations/87499.html)

VT: A small change in state statutes regarding manure digesters in Vermont has been passed. Now, when the Public Service Board receives a petition for a certificate of public good to bring the electricity on-line, its jurisdiction is limited to the electricity-generating aspects. Other state regulatory agencies will continue to have jurisdiction over the digester, its influents and effluents, the buildings and equipment used to handle influents and effluents, or the on-farm use of heat and exhaust. The bill (H.405) can be viewed online at: http://www.leg.state.vt.us/docs/2014/bills/Passed/H-405C.pdf.

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Global Methane Initiative

United States Climate Action Plan
In July 2013, President Obama announced his Climate Action Plan that incorporates a significant domestic effort on reducing methane while also calling out the Global Methane Initiative (GMI) as an important part of the United States’ international climate work. Congratulations to the Partner Countries on the well-deserved acknowledgement of your efforts!

2014 Meetings
The next meeting of the GMI Agriculture Subcommittee will be held in conjunction with the meetings of the Municipal Solid Waste and Municipal Wastewater Subcommittees. It is scheduled for March 12-13, 2014 in Florianopolis, Brazil. Additionally, GMI will hold an All-Partnership meeting in Fall 2014 to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the founding of the Partnership and showcase its accomplishments. The date and location are still being finalized – stay tuned for this announcement!

Registration details for each of these meetings will be published on the GMI website when available. In the meantime, if you have questions or comments, please contact asg@globalmethane.org.  

Successful Applications of Anaerobic Digesters Across the World
The Global Methane Initiative Agriculture Subcommittee recently finalized a document promoting the social, health, financial, and environmental benefits of anaerobic digestion projects, while also demonstrating the varied technologies and partners involved in these projects throughout the world. The document is available at www.globalmethane.org.

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Upcoming Events

13th Annual Harvesting Clean Energy Conference will be held in Helena, Montana on February 4-6, 2014. The conference, hosted by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), is the Northwest's premier gathering of the agriculture, forestry, and energy industries to advance rural economic development through clean energy.

For additional events, please check the AgSTAR Event page on the website at www.epa.gov/agstar/news-events/events/index.html.

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