At first we could not believe what our eyes had read. After a second review, we were not as surprised to learn that some politicians who extol the virtues of green energy also want to dictate the sources of such fuel comply to their standards of environmental justice to fulfill their own political agendas.
“Factory farm biogas” and “dirty electricity from factory farming” were among the buzzwords contained in a one-page letter sent to EPA Administrator Michael Regan on August 23, 2022, by Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Ed Markey (D-Mass.). While New York’s Gillibrand was a surprising signature, Senator Booker’s was not. A self-professed vegan, Booker has been on a vendetta against modern agriculture, more specifically, animal agriculture.
The group’s pointed letter expressed concerns that the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) would fund projects to generate methane biogas from Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). “While we appreciate this administration’s support for electric vehicles and transportation electrification, we also urge EPA to ensure that this federal support does not come at the expense of environmental justice communities that are already overburdened with pollution.”
In the letter’s crescendo, the five senators write, “Linking electric vehicles initiates with a new subsidy for dirty electricity from factory farming would be a massive step in the wrong direction, and we urge you not to provide any RFS electrification pathway for methane biogas from CAFOs.” On the same day, a separate, tamed-down letter also went to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack.
Make no mistake, these senators want to rewrite the clean energy story and are frustrated that agriculture proactively developed approaches to curb carbon and methane emissions. Not satisfied that these projects followed their vision, this quintet has lashed out.
A little dose of science is needed here. We remind the senators that renewable natural gas from digesters flows each and every day despite still winds and overcast days. Sole reliance on wind and solar would cause electrical grid blackouts.
Also, economic sustainability must be equally relevant as climate sustainability. In Senator Booker’s world, everyone would pay a premium for energy, and that disproportionately impacts the economically disadvantaged among us for whom he expressed the greatest concern. That’s why we side with Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.), who said, “Renewable natural gas is a clean, affordable, and reliable fuel source that can help lower emissions from heavy-duty vehicles.”