Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler at an appearance last month in Crisfield. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (D) on Wednesday touted the promise of converting chicken waste into an alternative energy source as he held the latest in a series of events to discuss policy ideas he would pursue as governor.

Appearing in Salisbury, Gansler pledged to take several steps to further the evolving technology, including a new grant program to encourage the use of energy sources that could reduce pollution of the Chesapeake Bay. He said the initiative would offer “InnoBAYtion” grants.

Nitrogen runoff from chicken waste, which farmers use as a fertilizer, is a serious contaminant of the bay, Gansler said. Moreover, the conversion process could provide struggling farmers with another source of income as the practice expands, he said.

“This is an issue I feel very strongly about,” Gansler told his audience at Salisbury University on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. “I’ve been talking about chicken-litter-to-energy for some time. You used to think it was like talking about putting a man on the moon. ... Now it’s become part of the mainstream dialogue.”

The practice still faces barriers to become cost effective. And some critics have said that one form of conversion, which involves incineration, creates air pollution and health problems.

Gansler, who plans to formally announce his candidacy next month, faces a competitive Democratic primary in 2014 against Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D) and Del. Heather R. Mizeur (D-Montgomery), and possibly others.

Gansler has spent the last few days on the defensive, seeking to explain derisive comments about Brown that were secretly recorded at a campaign volunteer meeting in July and published by The Washington Post on Monday.

Gansler has vowed to continue running a campaign based on ideas. Previous stops on his policy tour have highlighted his plans for initiatives on domestic violence, manufacturing, government transparency and prisoner re-entry in society.