Dairy and Livestock Greenhouse Gas Emissions Working Group
Dairy and livestock are responsible for over half of California’s methane emissions. Improved dairy manure management offers significant, near-term potential to achieve reductions in the State’s methane emissions, and potential dairy and livestock enteric emissions reduction technologies offer longer-term potential for addition greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions. In response to this significant contribution to the State's emissions and the requirement of Senate Bill 1383 to work with stakeholders to identify barriers to dairy and livestock GHG emissions reduction projects, the California Air Resources Board (CARB), California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), California Energy Commission (CEC), and California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) convened a Dairy and Livestock GHG Emissions Working Group (Working Group).
The Working Group held its first meeting in May 2017, led by the following principals: Chair Mary Nichols, CARB; Secretary Karen Ross, CDFA; Commissioner Janea Scott, CEC; and Commissioner Clifford Rechtschaffen, CPUC. This meeting and subsequent Working Group meetings included participation from dairy industry representatives, environmental justice advocates, public utilities, academics, and other interested stakeholders.
At the May 2017 meeting, the Working Group formed three subgroups to develop policy recommendations on the following topics:
- Subgroup #1: Fostering Markets for Non-Digester Projects was tasked with assembling a comprehensive overview and discussion of available non-digester methane emissions reduction project alternatives, covering emissions and emissions reduction opportunities for GHGs, criteria air pollutants, toxic air contaminants, and noxious pollutants. Non-digester projects include dry manure managements strategies and pasture conversion. The subgroup was tasked with addressing the availability of incentive funding, the long-term financial viability of converting dairy manure management processes, and actions needed to further develop markets for soil amendments and other products. In each case, the subgroup was asked to identify barriers and recommendations for overcoming them.
- Subgroup #2: Fostering Markets for Digester Projects was tasked with developing a roadmap to significantly expand the number of dairy and livestock digester projects in California. The roadmap was to identify both commercially ready and emerging technologies and approaches for converting manure and digestate into energy and other value-added products. The subgroup sought to identify and suggest solutions to potential impacts, benefits, and barriers to scaling up digester projects. Stakeholders were brought together to consider funding sources and infrastructure, procurement, and environmental policies that can achieve a sustainable model.
- Subgroup #3: Research Needs, Including Enteric Fermentation was tasked with prioritizing dairy research projects and improving knowledge of GHG and other pollutant emissions from California dairies and livestock facilities. The subgroup sought to identify potential emissions reductions or impacts of projects designed to reduce GHG emissions. The subgroup also sought to improve knowledge of enteric fermentation emissions, including the short- and long-term impacts that potential emissions reduction measures could have on product quality and consumer acceptance, animal health and welfare, farm economics, water quality, and air quality.
The Working Group held a second meeting in January 2018. The Representatives of the State agencies each gave brief updates and representatives from the subgroups presented their progress on recommendations. At the final Working Group meeting in December 2018, representatives of the three subgroups presented their recommendations to advance methane emissions reductions at California dairy and livestock operations. These recommendations will inform actions to reduce methane emissions from dairy and livestock operations, help prioritize incentive funding and research, and provide guidance for future policies.