On January 13, 2011, The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced they are making publicly available, the data from a two-year study of air emissions from animal feeding operations (AFOs).
The data (parameters monitored include: ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, particulate matter and volatile organic compounds) were developed from the National Air Emissions Monitoring Study (NAEMS), which resulted from a 2005 voluntary compliance agreement between EPA and the AFO industry.
On February 8, 2006, we reported that a total of 6,700 farms were covered by the agreement. You may recall that the agreements were viewed very negatively by some activist groups, including the Sierra Club. At that time, Ed Hopkins (Sierra Club) said, “This decision is a great disservice for the people who live around large factory farms…it basically gives these farms a free ride on the backs of the public. There’s really nothing in this that holds the polluters accountable for the toxic air emission they release.” (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11111912/)
It’s likely that those who voiced opposition to the agreement in 2006 will be reviewing the data and offering their opinion regarding how large livestock farms should be regulated.
As you may recall, those who signed the agreement were afforded certain protections against lawsuits, but they are subject to certain requirements once the EPA publishes emission estimating methods (reporting and permitting obligations). Depending on the results of the study, there were concerns that some of the new obligations could be very significant in terms of permitting and control technologies. This remains to be seen.
For more information, go to the EPA’s website or click here.