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Pacific Northwest
Hawai'i CFS

Factory Farm Gas is Not "Climate-Smart"

August 02, 2022
Center for Food Safety

The recently announced Energy Security and Climate Change Investments in the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 is a much-needed step towards decarbonizing our economy and ensuring a stable climate for future generations. However, Center for Food Safety is concerned about the "more than $20 billion to support climate-smart agriculture practices" if any of the money in the legislation funds manure digesters at factory farms. Manure digesters produce factory farm gas and are a false solution to the climate crisis. Despite being deemed a "renewable" energy source, these digesters create a large profit for confined animal factories, that will continue the unsustainable practices of industrial animal production.

Not only do digesters not work as touted, but they can also exacerbate the other problems created by factory farms, like water pollution, and further hurt local communities already suffering disproportionately from industrial animal production. Digesters do nothing to reduce other dangerous and toxic air emissions, which pose health and environment risks. Digesters at best can only capture the additional methane created by the vast lagoon-and-spray systems used by many factory farms. But holding the massive amount of animal waste generated at factory farms in open pits has other dire impacts, like drinking water contamination. Further, digesters cannot capture the largest source of methane from livestock operations: enteric greenhouse gas emissions of dairy cows (aka burps). Finally, this technology can only be used at the largest factory farms and revenue from selling this gas incentivizes larger herds, leading to more of the greenhouse gases that cannot be captured. The factory farm system is an inhumane and unsustainable way to produce America's meat and dairy products that externalizes its costs to the public, and it will only be further entrenched by public financing for methane digesters. Congress must not fund factory farm gas if it wants to protect our climate's future.

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