New Legislation Promotes Biogas Production Through Tax Credits (Sen. Ben Nelson)

Billions of gallons of fossil fuels could be reduced through renewable energy sources produced from wastes with a little ingenuity and modest government support.  I have introduced groundbreaking legislation that promotes the development of biogas – a natural gas substitute created by converting agricultural, animal or other organic wastes – through tax incentives.

We already have the technology to break down these wastes to create biogas but it needs encouragement from the federal government to become a commercially-viable alternative to natural gas.  This new energy source would benefit rural communities and the environment while lessening our dependence on fossil fuels and ensuring energy security. We shouldn’t waste the waste; we should promote biogas development.

My legislation is cosponsored by Senators Mike Crapo of Idaho, Mike Johanns of Nebraska, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, John Thune of South Dakota, Ron Wyden of Oregon and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan.

Biogas is produced through technologies such as anaerobic digestion (AD) that can convert animal wastes and other agricultural or organic wastes into at least 50% methane (the principal ingredient of natural gas).  Biogas can be used as is on the farm or co-located with another facility such as an ethanol plant, or as a renewable substitute for natural gas, propane or other fossil fuels.

My legislation, the Biogas Production Incentives Act of 2009, would encourage greater production of biogas for energy purposes by providing biogas producers with a tax credit of $4.27 for every million British thermal units (mmBtu) of biogas produced. This could mean more jobs and a boon for rural communities.

Biogas production also offers environmental benefits such as a reduction in the greenhouse gas emissions of both carbon dioxide and methane and improved water quality through better manure management.

We’ve made great strides in developing an ethanol industry in Nebraska and we should do more to diversify and expand our production of biofuels and renewable energy. My legislation will put into place tax incentives for large scale and small scale producers to get involved in biogas production.