Biomass Bill Passes Assembly

Biomass Bill (AB 590, Salas / Dahle) Protects Renewable Energy and Air Quality

SACRAMENTO – AB 590 will incentivize biomass utilization of agriculture waste and forest waste. The legislation will save jobs, divert biomass from landfills, and create renewable energy.

“Biomass power generation is a clean and efficient way to produce renewable energy and help improve our air. In fact, the Delano biomass facility has helped reduce 96 percent of the pollutants released from open-field burning. This facility alone converts 300,000 tons of agricultural waste per year into clean, renewable energy.” said Assemblymember Salas. “AB 590 provides the necessary structure and resources to protect and incentivize biomass power in California.”

Farms in Kern and Tulare Counties generate over 580,000 tons of woody waste annually, mostly from almond, peach, and nectarine orchards. In the past, most of this material has been burned openly in the fields. Open burning of wood residues produces up to 100 times more greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than biomass power plants, which convert wood into renewable energy. The Delano biomass facility reduces 96 percent of the pollutants released in open-field burning; leading local air quality management officials to call Covanta Delano “a stationary air pollution control device.”

In addition to air quality benefits, the biomass plants produce a steady flow of reliable, renewable, baseload electric power regardless of natural external conditions, like wind, sun and water flow. The plants also help ensure that the state meets its current renewable energy portfolio standard of 33 percent by the 2020 statutory deadline.

“In the past few years we have seen the catastrophic results of forests that are too loaded with forest fuels. The people of my district have lived in a cloud of smoke, as thousands of acres have burned destroying lives, property, critical animal habitat, ruining our watersheds and wasting valuable resources,” said Assemblyman Dahle. “I introduced AB 590 to address this crisis. The bill is now on to the Senate with bipartisan support from the Assembly, where I hope to see it receive the same support.”

Currently, California biomass plants use more than eight million tons of wood waste as fuel. About 3.7 million tons represent urban wood waste kept out of landfills, helping local governments meet disposal mandates.

Biomass plants across the state employ approximately 700 people directly, as well as 1,000 to 1,500 other workers in dedicated indirect jobs. Many are in economically hard-pressed rural communities where the plants are one of the largest private employers.

Unfortunately, the 25 plants that convert biomass waste into energy are at serious risk of closure without decisive action by the State Legislature and the Governor. In the past year, five plants closed. AB 590 would allocate part of the state’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF) revenue to defer the costs of operating these plants.

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Assemblymember Salas represents part of the City of Bakersfield, the cities of Arvin, Avenal, Corcoran, Delano, Hanford, Lemoore, McFarland, Shafter, Wasco, and the communities of Armona, Buttonwillow, Home Garden, Kettleman City, Lamont, Lost Hills, Stratford and Weedpatch

Assemblymember Dahle represents Alturas, Anderson, Butte County (Portions), Colfax, Dunsmuir, Grass Valley, Lassen County, Modoc County, Montague, Mount Shasta, Nevada City, Nevada County, Placer County (Portions), Plumas County, Portola, Redding, Shasta County, Shasta Lake, Sierra County, Siskiyou County, Truckee, Weed, Yreka

(Photo: Covanta Biomass Plant, Delano, CA)

Contact: Jillian Rice. (661) 335-0302

CDFA AWARDS $5.8 MILLION TO ASSIST FARMERS WITH WATER EFFICIENCY AND ENHANCEMENT

Announced TODAY, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has awarded $5.8 million for 70 different projects in the second phase of a program to implement on-farm water irrigation systems with increased water efficiency and enhancement to reduce water and energy use, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs).

The funding for the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP) is part of emergency drought Legislation (SB 103) signed in early 2014 by Governor Brown – authorizing CDFA to distribute as much as $10 million for eligible projects, in cooperation with the Department of Water Resources and the State Water Board.

“These projects are essential to allow farmers to continue agricultural food production while at the same time providing ecosystem services that enhance the environment” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “The result is the continuous improvement of our farming systems while at the same time providing multiple benefits, including water conservation and reduced GHG emissions.”

With this latest round of funding, a total of $9.1 million has been awarded for 155 different projects that have leveraged an additional $6.9 million in private cost-share dollars from grant recipients. The money comes from the state’s portion of Cap-and-Trade auction proceeds. The proceeds are deposited in the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund and appropriated to state agencies.

The funding will reduce GHG emissions through projects that include modifications to improve water efficiency like drip and microsprinkler systems; energy-efficient water pumps; soil moisture sensors; and irrigation scheduling programs that apply water based on crop needs.

This program is the first of its kind at CDFA and applies to its authority under the Environmental Farming Act of 1995, which states that the department should oversee an Environmental Farming Program to provide incentives to farmers whose practices promote the well-being of ecosystem and air quality.

More information on the SWEEP program can be found by visiting  www.cdfa.ca.gov/go/sweep.

Upcoming CDFA Meeting to Discuss Dairy Digester Research Program

Dairy Digesters Are Needed to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is developing a new program, the Dairy Digester Research and Development Program, authorized by the Budget Act of 2014 (Chapter 25, Statutes of 2014). CDFA was appropriated $12 million dollars from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund to provide financial assistance for the installation of dairy digesters in California, which will result in reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

CDFA will administer the program in two phases, beginning with Phase I, Dairy Digester Development and Phase II, Research. An estimated $11 million in competitive grant funding will be awarded to provide financial assistance for the implementation of dairy digesters that result in reduced greenhouse gas emissions and provide other environmental benefits (Phase I). An estimated $500,000 will be made available for research and demonstration projects that improve the economic performance of dairy digesters (Phase II).

Three public stakeholder meetings have been scheduled in November 2014 to explain the new program and to receive comments and suggestions. These public meetings will be held on the following dates and at the following locations:

Thursday, November 6, 2014 – 2:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

University of California Cooperative Extension Stanislaus County

3800 Cornucopia Way

Room: HI

Modesto, CA 95358

 

Monday, November 10, 2014 – 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

University of California Cooperative Extension Tulare County

4437 S. Laspina Street (Across the street from World Ag Expo)

Room: Tulare County Agricultural Building Auditorium

Tulare, CA 93274

 

Thursday, November 13, 2014 – 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Includes Webinar access!

California Department of Food and Agriculture

1220 N Street Room: Auditorium

Sacramento, CA 95814

 

The meeting on November 13 will include a webinar to allow remote attendance.

 

More information about this program is available on the CDFA Environmental Stewardship websiteFor additional information on dairy digesters, click on: California EPA Digesters and California EPA Anaerobic Digestion.