Court Upholds Air Emissions Agreements

WASHINGTON,DC - The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) has welcomed a federal court decision to dismiss challenges to the validity of air emissions agreements between the Environmental Protection Agency and livestock and poultry operations.
calendar icon 19 July 2007
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The so-called air consent agreements protect animal feeding operations from EPA enforcement actions for past air emissions violations, as well as for violations that might occur while the agency conducts a monitoring study of emissions from farms.

Nearly 2,600 animal feeding operations (AFOs), including 1,856 hog operations, signed the agreements. NPPC worked with EPA to craft agreements protecting pork producers while allowing the agency to promulgate air emissions standards for farms.

The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit dismissed environmental groups’ petitions for review of the agreements because "exercises of EPA’s enforcement discretion are not reviewable by this court.”

The groups argued that the agreements were rules disguised as enforcement actions and that EPA did not follow proper rulemaking procedures. They believe animal feeding operations should be forced to comply more quickly with existing federal air emissions statutory requirements.

However, the court disagreed and stated that because the Clean Air Act and other legislation, apply only to emissions above specified levels, then the EPA cannot enforce the statutory and regulatory requirements without determining an AFO’s emissions.

Researchers from eight universities recently began monitoring air emissions from 24 sites in nine states. When the 30-month study is complete, EPA will then compose air emissions standards for animal feeding operations.

“The air consent agreements are necessary to take the pork industry’s environmental performance to the next level,” said Randy Spronk, pork producers frm Minnesota and chairman of NPPC’s Environmental Policy Committee.

“By working co-operatively with EPA to conduct emissions monitoring, we are developing a body of scientific knowledge on air emissions from animal agriculture that is necessary to design and implement effective mitigation measures. It is good for agriculture, good for our environment and good for the American people,” he added.

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