State Activities: Agriculture and Carbon Sequestration
Certain farming practices can reduce GHG emissions and sequester carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. Iowa's Department of Natural Resources provides support, funding, and information to promote switchgrass as a biomass energy crop with the potential for large-scale production across Iowa. In a demonstration project, 5 percent of coal will be displaced and enough electricity produced for 11,000 homes. Maryland provides income tax credits for the production and sale of electric power from biomass combustion, including energy crops and poultry litter. Idaho is working with the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory to research the economic benefits of carbon sinks. Wyoming recently established an advisory committee to implement a carbon sequestration and carbon credit-marketing program.
The Vermont Methane Pilot Project promotes the use of methane recovery technology on dairy farms. While the project was developed primarily to help farmers deal with livestock waste, it has several ancillary benefits. Harnessing methane for energy prevents its escape to the atmosphere, where it acts as a GHG, and displaces the need for other energy sources, which may be derived from fossil fuels. Methane recovery from dairy manure alone could provide Vermont with 28,000 kW of renewable energy. Through Vermont's net metering law, which was revised in 2000 specifically to apply to farm methane systems, farmers that produce up to 125 kW can sell their excess electricity to the grid, providing much-needed additional farm income. Finally, odor control appears to be a major benefit. A partnership between Vermont's Departments of Agriculture and Public Service, and with $700,000 in appropriations over several years from the U.S. Department of Energy Northeast Regional Biomass Program, the Vermont Methane Pilot Project illustrates how investing in climate-friendly technology can benefit stakeholders statewide.