Poop-to-Natural-Gas Makes a Stink in Texas

The biggest anaerobic digester plant, which converts manure to methane, is getting a second chance after going bust
Digester tanks turn manure into biogas Amy Conn-Gutierrez/AP Photo

Erath County, Tex., produces two commodities in bulk: milk and manure. Visitors to the Victorian-era courthouse in Stephenville, the county seat, 70 miles southwest of Fort Worth, are greeted by an imposing fiberglass cow named Moola. The tons of waste produced by bovine herds, however, have created, well, a stink in the area. For years, officials in downstream Waco accused the dairies of contaminating the water supply. So when a New York-based renewable energy company proposed taking the muck off farmers' hands at no charge, everyone loved the idea. The plan was to transform the manure into a climate-friendly gas for energy. "It was going to be win-win for everyone," says July Danley, head of the Stephenville Chamber of Commerce.

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