Petition from Air Quality Law Enforcement Groups for Livestock Containment


More than 20 environmental and animal welfare groups in several states on Tuesday called on the United States Environmental Protection Agency to end a 16-year moratorium on the enforcement of federal pollution laws. air for confinement of livestock.

The problem is a 2005 agreement between the agency and thousands of containment owners and operators in 42 states that temporarily suspended the application of provisions of the Clean Air Act that could restrict emissions from those containments. In return, ranchers agreed to pay up to $ 2,500 per farm for an emissions study that would guide how lockdowns are regulated. They also agreed to pay fines of up to $ 1,000.

That process – which included a $ 15 million study into ammonia and hydrogen sulfide emissions – was supposed to end a decade ago, but is still ongoing because the agency failed to develop effective means of measuring and estimating emissions, according to an internal report.

“The EPA gave them a free pass to freely spit air contaminants into the environment,” said Emily Miller, lawyer for Food & Water Watch, which is headquartered in Washington, DC.

This organization is part of the coalition that called on the EPA to end the so-called air compliance agreement with cattle ranchers and enforce pollution laws. Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, which has long sought to end the common practice of raising large numbers of pigs in containment buildings, is also part of the group.

“It’s urgent,” said Lisa Whelan, director of operations for ICCI. “We can’t afford to keep kicking the road. “

The EPA is obligated to investigate and respond to the petition, but it has no obligation to follow the request. Miller said the coalition could seek recourse to the courts if the EPA’s response is not satisfactory.

An EPA spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this article.

Dal Grooms of the Iowa Pork Producers Association declined to comment until the association can fully consider the petition.

In 2017, an internal EPA review by its Office of the Inspector General concluded that the agency should complete development of its emission estimation methodologies or end the protections it gave to breeders from 2005.

The agency released a draft of these potential methodologies in August 2020, but it could be years before the process is complete.

The petition asks the EPA to respond within 30 days.