Senate passes methane gas bill sponsored by Overbey

The State Senate unanimously approved legislation March 16, to encourage the development and use of refined and purified methane gas as a renewable green energy source.

Bill sponsor State Sen. Doug Overbey said that generating electricity from solid waste landfills is a relatively cost-effective way to provide new renewable energy generation capacity to help supply community power needs, while helping to create local jobs.

“This landfill gas-to-energy source would utilize a resource that would have otherwise been wasted,” Sen. Overbey said. “At the same time, it will produce benefits for the landfill, the environment, our community, and consumers.”

The legislation makes it clear that once refined, the extracted methane is a commercial equivalent under Tennessee law to natural gas. It also says that it would be treated as such under any permits allowing burning or use of natural gas. In addition, the legislation makes it clear that any prohibitions in permits that bar use of burning of landfill gas refer only to the unrefined gases generated underground at a landfill, and not the extracted and refined methane.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, landfill gas emitted from decomposing garbage is a reliable and renewable fuel option that remains largely untapped at many landfills across the United States, despite its many benefits. Generating energy from landfill methane gas creates a number of environmental benefits, including the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and improving the air quality of the surrounding community by reducing landfill odors. The purified extracted methane can be transported by pipeline.

“By extracting methane from landfill gas, purifying it and using it as a substitute for natural gas, several good things happen,” Overbey added. “Among these are local air quality is improved because the methane is not being burned off at the landfill site, but is extracted and sold helping our economy, and it helps lessen our dependence on foreign oil. I am pleased that our Senate has approved this legislation that will encourage this renewable green energy source.”

The bill, SB 2066, is currently pending action in the Environment Subcommittee in the House of Representatives where it is sponsored by Representative Joe Armstrong (D-Knoxville).

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