Goal is to convert poultry manure to power

A proposal to build a new facility on the Shore that would recycle chicken waste into energy is being called “an exciting alternative” by Delegate Carl Anderton, R-38B.

“I’m really excited about it. It could be a game changer for us,” he said this week.

“We would have an anaerobic digestive facility to make chicken waste into natural gas … They inject water and a natural enzyme breaks it down. It creates methane gas. There is no noise, no fumes. They have been doing this with dairy manure for quite awhile,” Anderton explained.

Ag Energy Solutions, a company based in Washington state,  has expressed interest in building on the Shore, possibly in Somerset County, although Anderton said there have only been preliminary discussions.

On Ag Energy’s Web site, it’s explained field residue is converted, delivering “a unique, safe and practical solution that significantly reduces the high-demand for fertilizer, fuel and energy.”

“Now farmers can harvest their excess field residue and generate power to drive their irrigation pumps or sell power pack to the grid. The time and cost associated with multiple tillage passes to break down the biomass is eliminated,” the Web site states.

Anderton said it would be an excellent solution to the problem of too much nitrogen going into the Chesapeake Bay, especially since 300 million chickens are grown on Delmarva every year.

A PMT was in place when former Gov. Martin O’Malley went out of office. Soon after he was inaugurated in January, Gov. Larry Hogan withdrew the PMT from the Maryland Register. It was scheduled to be printed, was not.

Hogan introduced new regulations, giving farmers until 2022 to have it in place. He indicated new uses had to be found for manure and said farmland that already had high concentrations of phosphorous should not have more applied.

“An advisory group would be put in to be sure of the analysis and the implementation schedule,” Anderton said.

He said other changes to the regulations include:

*Setting 2022 as the implementation target date.

*Maintaining a “trigger” concept to evaluate handling manure and infrastructure capacity and the potential to adjust the schedule based on deficiencies.

*Limiting possible postponement to two one-year delays.

*Having the PMT fully implemented by 2024.

*Forming an advisory group to evaluate infrastructure and capacity issues.

*Having a stakeholder group evaluate how manure is handled, and suggest alternative uses.

Anderton said if a recycling plant is built on the Shore, after the initial  process, leftover manure solids would be packaged as peat moss replacement. The liquid nitrogen would be put back on market.

As regulations were developed, Anderton said, lawmakers discussed if the science is flawed. “We saw one report that said the bay creates its own phosphorous … the driving force behind this is to allow us to have some kind of quality of life. I feel pretty secure we’re in the final inclination of it, but you never know,”   he said.

As he talked to fellow lawmakers in Annapolis about the importance of earning a living on the Shore while protecting the bay, he said he’s been pleased with the spirit of cooperation at the 2015 legislative session.

The session ends April 13.

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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