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The Production and Use of Renewable Natural Gas as a Climate Strategy in the United States

This working paper summarizes World Research Institute (WRI) research on the potential of renewable natural gas (RNG) — a biogas that has been processed into pure methane — as a low-carbon vehicle fuel to combat climate change in the United States.

U.S. businesses, states and cities are increasingly turning to RNG as an important and cost-effective climate strategy — with the largest packaging service in the world, UPS, using it to meet its goal of 40 percent alternative fuel in its ground-transportation fleets by 2025 and Washington-state signing a bill last month to increase use and development of RNG for turning its waste into a low carbon fuel.

WRI has found that if the 50 million tons of unused organic waste sent to landfills every year were to be converted into renewable natural gas, it could provide trucks and other heavy-duty vehicles with a fuel that's 120-400 percent less carbon-intensive than diesel and natural gas.

The new research identifies the best way of producing RNG to help cut methane, a GHG 28 times more potent than CO2 — with livestock manure, wastewater treatment faciliies and landfills contributing about 30 percent of all U.S. methane emissions, while also reducing emissions from the U.S. transportation sector — a top source of the country’s CO2 emissions.

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