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Digester program needs significant public investment, California dairy group tells air board

00:00AM Sep 04, 2008

Saying it opposes mandates for methane digesters on dairies, California's Western United Dairymen (WUD) filed formal comments this week with the state's Air Resources Board about the initial plan to implement California's historic global warming legislation, AB 32.


"Any dairy methane capture program must be implemented in an appropriate and cost-effective manner,” WUD said in its comments to Mary Nichols, chair of the ARB.


"Implementing a significant dairy digester program in California, like everywhere else in the world, will require substantial public investment,” noted WUD's Director of Environmental Services Paul Martin. "Digesters cannot be built solely with private capital.”


WUD, a Modesto-based trade organization, represents more than 60% of the milk produced in California.


CEO Michael Marsh wrote to Nichols, "Western United Dairymen is unequivocally opposed to any consideration, at any time and in any manner, to a mandate to install methane digesters on dairy farms. In order to be complete, any report or scoping document must emphasize the kinds of difficulties encountered regarding potential adoption and utilization of any technology, including digester gas technologies.


"To fail to prominently display the roadblocks simultaneously with the presentation of potential opportunities will give a faulty assessment of the relevance of the technology and an inaccurate picture of the reductions available, and it may lead to misdirection of future courses of action,” Marsh added.  


Acknowledging the challenges the digester program faces will not stop WUD and its members from pursuing solutions, noted Martin.


"WUD staff is meeting and consulting with high level staff at Cal EPA and the air resources board,” Martin said. "We are hopeful for positive results and will continue technical discussions to resolve technical issues.”


Catherine Merlo is Western editor for Dairy Today. You can reach her at