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Congressman Paul Tonko, New York's 20th Congressional District. © AP

Congressman Paul Tonko Receives Energy Vision Awards for Advancing Renewable Fuels

Capturing methane not only has climate benefits, it can also be a new revenue stream

Published on October 21, 2021

At its 15th annual awards event last night, the nonprofit Energy Vision presented sustainability awards to Congressman Paul Tonko of New York, the City of Topeka, Generate Capital, and Glenfiddich/William Grant & Sons, for their achievements in advancing renewable natural gas (RNG) made from organic wastes.

The lowest-carbon fuel available, RNG is made by capturing methane biogases emitted when organic wastes like food scraps or agricultural manure decompose and refining them into RNG. RNG involved no drilling or fracking and has the lowest lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions of any fuel available today. When food wastes and manures are the feedstocks, RNG is net carbon-negative over its lifecycle.

“We need to deploy and scale low and zero-emission fuels,” said Congressman Paul Tonko. “There are cost-effective solutions to reduce and avoid methane emissions from farms, landfills, and wastewater treatment facilities. Capturing methane not only has climate benefits, it can also be a new revenue stream. We should be looking to support programs and enhance incentives that turn this waste into an opportunity. The transportation sector will need a diverse set of clean fuels.”

Glenfiddich, the world’s first spirits brand, powers its truck fleet with RNG it makes in its whiskey waste-to fuel program. “Taking our distilling waste products and turning them into RNG to fuel our vehicles is having a hugely positive impact, reducing our CO2 emissions by 95% -99% over diesel,” said Kirsty Dagnan, site leader of the Glenfiddich Distillery at Dufftown in Moray, Scotland. “It’s very important for the food and drinks industry to make sure we’re sustainable, especially with transport,” said Paul Basford, President and Managing Director of William Grant & Sons, Inc.

The City of Topeka has built an RNG production facility at its largest wastewater treatment plant. “My hope is that other mid-size cities are going to say ‘Topeka did this, we also need to do the right thing,” said Topeka Director of Utilities Braxton Copley.

“Making RNG captures methane which would have otherwise gone straight from organic wastes into the atmosphere, and displaces fossil fuels in the process,” said Bill Caesar, president of the waste-to-value division of Generate Capital, whose network of digesters processes 275,000 tons of food waste a year.”

Environmental Reporter