EPA ANNOUNCES AIR QUALITY COMPLIANCE AGREEMENT FOR AFOs
The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), working with representatives of the egg production, dairy, and poultry industries, has finalized a major consent agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
A key part of this agreement is a two-year benchmark study of the air emissions from livestock and poultry operations across the country. Based on the findings of the study, EPA will set national air policies, identify farm emissions thresholds, and then regulate excessive levels.
"National restrictions on air emissions will lower air emissions from livestock and poultry farms across the country," said NPPC President Keith Berry, a pork producer from Greencastle, Ind.
According to Dave Roper, chairman of NPPC's Environment Committee and a member of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's federal advisory committee on agricultural air emissions, before these policy changes can happen both farmers and regulators need to know how the air laws apply to farms of different size, design and location.
"EPA officials in both the Clinton and Bush Administrations and scientists of the National Academy of Sciences agreed that sound scientific data was missing to enforce the current air laws," said Roper, a pork producer from Kimberly, Idaho. "Many believe that federal and state air regulators currently lack the information needed to correctly interpret current laws for animal production. Climate, animal numbers and age, and farm management are all key variables that affect emissions. Until science interprets these factors, livestock producers are at a loss to know if the laws apply to their farms."
A second part of this agreement provides legal protections for past emissions if participating pork producers meet all the requirements of the agreement and fully comply with the subsequent regulatory policies for applicable requirements. Only producers who sign the consent agreement with EPA and pay a nominal penalty are released from potential liability for past violations that may have occurred prior to the new air policies.
"All producers, whether they signed the agreement or not, will be subject to applicable permitting, emissions reporting and other compliance requirements once the data are analyzed and EPA publishes new national livestock air emissions standards," Roper said.
Leading university scientists will conduct the EPA-approved study, using the most modern equipment and approved methods. Purdue University will manage the study, oversee quality assurance, financial accounting, and provide status reports to EPA, industry and the general public.
The study will gather data relative to the thresholds of the Clean Air Act (CAA), the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). NPPC intends to host a series of six sign-up meetings for producers across the country in the coming weeks.
NPPC will follow-up this announcement in coming days by hosting four regional meetings for pork producers in Raleigh, N.C.; Indianapolis, Ind.; Des Moines, Iowa and Kansas City, Mo.
For more information, visit NPPC's website at www.nppc.org.