How Midwest dairy farmers are cashing in on California's clean fuel standards

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Dairy cows wait to be milked in West Bend, Wisc.
Darren Hauck | Getty Images 2013

There’s a boom in renewable natural gas happening in the Midwest right now — and it is all fueled by cows.

According to Energy News Network contributor Frank Jossi, farmers in the Midwest can turn manure into natural gas using a biodigester, which is a tank that breaks down organic material.

“Bacteria degrades the manure into essentially what's methane and that is then tapped into a natural gas line,” he said. “There's no separate natural gas line for renewable natural gas. It just goes into the typical natural gas lines that cover the country.”

The only problem? Most of that biofuel is going to California to help the state meet its clean car standards. Minnesota lawmakers are still trying to hammer out a deal on similar rules here.

MPR chief meteorologist and Climate Cast host Paul Huttner spoke with Jossi about this market for biofuels and how it can help the planet and farmers alike.

Use the audio player above to listen to the full conversation. Subscribe to the Climate Cast podcast for more.

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