Sustainable Conservation works directly with farmers across California and advocates for adoption of sustainable business practices and important policy changes.
Manure management for California’s dairies
CEA has worked with Sustainable Conservation to better understand environmental approaches to manure management in California’s Central Valley dairies. In CEA’s first engagement, we assessed the range of potential options for reducing the environmental impact of California’s dairies, including methane digesters as well as several other options including nutrient recovery and co-digestion. We identified the range of possibilities and evaluated their tractability across several criteria (e.g., economic risk, environmental impact, regulatory risk, scalability). CEA summarized its findings for Sustainable Conservation and also helped the organization produce a Dairy Summit in May 2013, which engaged a wide range of stakeholders in dialog about the most promising opportunities identified by CEA’s review.
A few years later (in 2015), CEA worked with Sustainable Conservation, in partnership with both the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the dairy industry, to further investigate the economic implications of various options to reduce methane emissions from California dairies in the context of California’s emerging Short-Lived Climate Pollutant Reduction Strategy. Sustainable Conservation was interested in assessing the underlying, sector-wide, economics of mitigating the environmental impacts from dairies, the life cycle costs and benefits of different mitigation solutions across a range of indicators, potential sources of funding, and the policies that could help tip the scales in favor of broader adoption of mitigation measures. CEA served as the project manager and lead researcher in this effort. CEA drafted both a comprehensive and summary report outlining the key findings of the investigation. These reports provide an assessment of the economics of methane capture, the suite of co-benefits associated with different scenarios, possible funding mechanisms, key barriers to adoption of the technologies, and a concrete set of recommendations.