ESA Helps With Program EIR on Dairy Digester Facilities in California's Central Valley


Environmental Science Associates (ESA), a leading California environmental consulting firm, successfully assisted the Central Valley Regional Water Board with interagency coordination and preparation of a Program Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for a Central Valley dairy digester and co-digester waste discharge regulatory program. The development of these facilities at dairies will directly advance California’s major environmental goal of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and generating biogas to meet the State’s Renewable Portfolio Standard goals. This program EIR and the adopted General Order provides a framework to expeditiously advance these renewable energy projects.

The Central Valley is home to 1,400 dairies with about 1.6 million cows. Assuming a full build-out of the EIR scenario of 200 dairy digesters constructed over 10 years, the program may result in a reduction of 1.6 million metric tons of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) equivalent emissions per year. State and local agencies that worked with the Central Valley Regional Water Board to develop the program EIR included: the State Water Resources Control Board, California Air Resources Board, Department of Food and Agriculture, California Energy Commission, California Public Utilities Commission, San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, California Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle). The final EIR was certified on December 10, 2010.

California Secretary of Food and Agriculture, A.G. Kawamura said, “This is an example of how agencies can work together to align the permitting process to help California agriculture diversify into the renewable energy sector while protecting our environment. Development of dairy digesters represents a potential revenue opportunity for dairy farm families during these tough economic times while at the same time assisting the state in reaching its ambitious renewable energy goals.

"The certification of the EIR and adoption of the General Order are key steps in allowing dairy manure digester and co-digester projects to move forward with a clear understanding of the environmental requirements.” said Paul Miller, Manager of ESA’s Renewable Resources Group in the Central Valley/Sierra Region.

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