Senate Bill 709 is a major step in the wrong direction, undermining the state’s climate strategies, programs, and policies.
Senate Bill 709 (Allen) will eliminate the dairy sector’s ability to continue reducing methane emissions as well as undermine the state’s short-lived climate pollutant reduction strategy.
Reducing methane emissions is a key short-term climate policy priority for California and other jurisdictions. Unfortunately, SB 709 will:
California’s dairy sector accounts for roughly 45 percent of all anthropogenic methane emissions in California. SB 1383 (2016) sought to reduce all SLCP emissions, including dairy manure methane emissions, by 40 percent by 2030. SB 1383 also created important incentive-based programs to achieve these reductions while avoiding methane leakage to other states.
SB 709 would now undermine the entire SB 1383 strategy to achieve the desired reductions. SB 709 will dramatically reduce important low-carbon fuel standard (LCFS) incentives that enable methane capture and beneficial use projects. Dairy digesters projects, known for their effectiveness, will not be able to be financed and implemented under SB 709. The development of dairy digesters is widely recognized by the California Air Resources Board and the Legislative Analyst Office as the most productive and cost-effective climate investment currently being implemented. Without these critical incentives, new projects will not be developed, and existing projects will become uneconomical and cease operating. As a result, not only will additional progress be hindered, but more than 2.2 million tons of GHG (methane) will be added back into the atmosphere each year.
California’s dairy farm families have embraced the state’s methane reduction efforts and have developed more than 120 dairy digester projects since 2016. As a result, the dairy sector is well on its way to achieving the 40 percent reduction in manure methane by 2030 as sought by SB 1383. These efforts are well chronicled in a recent UC Davis report, Meeting the Call: How California is Pioneering a Pathway to Significant Dairy Sector Methane Reduction, which concludes that California is on pace to achieve the desired dairy methane emissions reductions. The California Air Resources Board further confirms the sector’s progress in the 2022 Scoping Plan for Achieving Carbon Neutrality and calls for additional investment in methane reduction strategies, including digesters . Instead, SB 709 will strand existing investments and reverse the dairy methane reduction progress made to date.