EPA air quality program will monitor only about 30 farms

DES MOINES, Iowa - Thousands of factory farms nationwide are expected to sign up for a new Environmental Protection Agency compliance program, but the agency will pick only about 30 to monitor levels of gases such as ammonia and hydrogen sulfide.

The EPA program allows owners of farms that house thousands of hogs, chickens or dairy cattle to avoid fines for violating the Clean Air Act by paying a civil penalty up front and volunteering to collect air quality data over a two-year period. They also agree to correct any problems that federal officials uncover.

While all those who sign up would be exempt from fines during that period, it could take another two years to analyze the data. Until then, there isn't enough data to determine whether violations of air standards have occurred, said Thomas V. Skinner, EPA's chief of enforcement.

Through the agreement, officials are trying to scientifically gauge the level of emissions given off from factory farms, where thousands of cows, chickens or pigs - collectively producing tons of manure each year - are housed in small pens or cages under one roof.

Opponents of the confinements say the gases given off from the manure, which typically is stored in holding ponds or lagoons near the buildings, contribute to health problems, including respiratory ailments such as asthma. Such gases can include ammonia, hydrogen sulfide and methane.

Source: Aberdeen News
calendar icon 7 March 2005
clock icon 1 minute read
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