A group called the Environmental Integrity Project submitted recommendations to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) this week, commending its first step towards measuring and regulating agricultural air emissions and suggesting the measurements should be adjusted in order to be protective of public health and quality of life in rural areas.
The draft measurement tools, referred to as Emissions Estimating Methodologies (EEMs), are EPA’s first attempt to estimate the quantities of ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, particulates and volatile organic compounds emitted by large livestock operations. EPA based the methodologies on the National Air Emissions Monitoring Study (NAEMS) involving 21 operations. EPA agreed to grant amnesty from enforcement of clean air laws to more than 14,000 facilities in exchange for their contribution to study costs and an agreement to participate in the study, if selected. This first set of draft methodologies covers emissions from broiler houses, dairy and hog operations.
In a recent news release, representatives from the Environmental Integrity Project called for EPA requirements for all farms to report emissions and took issue with farm operators being able to report their own emissions.
“EPA agreed to consider all relevant information in drafting the EEMs and it has not,” says Elisabeth Holmes, attorney for the Center for Food Safety. “By neglecting existing, reliable science, the government appears to be willfully ducking documentation that would improve the accuracy and usefulness of its emissions estimates, benefiting public health and the environment. EPA can do better.”
The environmental group also expressed concern over the complexity of the proposed methods, noting that farm operators will have to use the tools and report their own emissions. EPA’s Science Advisory Board established an expert committee to review the highly technical draft methodologies, but the report had not been finalized before the end of public comment. The environmental group urged EPA to re-open the comment period once this information becomes available. Read an overview of the National Air Emissions Monitoring Study online at https://engineering.purdue.edu/~odor/NAEMS/index.htm.