Environmental Appeals Board Approves First Air Compliance Agreements with Animal Feeding Operations

(Excerpted From EPA website)

Release date:01/30/2006

Contact: Dave Ryan, 202-564-4355 / ryan.dave@epa.gov

(Washington, D.C.-Jan. 30, 2006) EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) today approved the first 20 Air compliance agreements for animal feeding operations (AFOs). Under these agreements, the AFOs will participate in a nationwide project to evaluate the air emissions from animal feeding operations and use this data to develop an effective regulatory program. EPA also is settling liability for certain past violations against AFOs.

Key to the agreements is an EPA-approved monitoring and research study conducted by independent researchers. The study is expected to begin later this year and will provide EPA with a much stronger and more complete body of air emissions science and data that can be used to develop a sound, reasonable and effective air emissions regulatory program. EPA will use data it gathers to develop emission estimates for farms that can be applied nationwide. EPA also may develop new compliance standards, guidelines and enforcement policies.

EPA began discussions with producers in 2001 on bringing animal feeding operations into compliance with various environmental regulations.

In the Jan. 31, 2005 Federal Register, EPA offered AFOs an opportunity to sign a voluntary consent agreement and final order to resolve potential violations of the Clean Air Act (CAA), the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA)—also known as Superfund, and the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA). Ultimately, 2,681 AFOs, representing more than 6,700 farms in 42 states, signed up to participate in the voluntary agreement by the Aug. 12, 2005 deadline.

The 20 agreements announced today were submitted to the EAB on Nov. 9, 2005, and consisted of 10 swine-raising operations and 10 operations that raise egg-laying birds. The EAB determined that the agreements were consistent with applicable statutes and regulations under the federal Clean Air Act (CAA), including penalty provisions.

EPA is evaluating the remaining agreements and plans to send those satisfying the requirements for participation to the EAB for approval as soon as possible.

Within 18 months following the conclusion of the monitoring study, EPA will evaluate all data submitted and publish emissions-estimating methodologies for AFOs on a rolling basis. These published emissions-estimating methodologies will allow AFOs to estimate their emissions and comply with federal regulatory requirements. EPA will use the data to bring enforcement actions against AFOs that fail to comply. The result of this process will be improved compliance with the regulatory schemes and the installation of appropriate controls if necessary. This comprehensive approach will achieve widespread compliance much faster than any other enforcement mechanism.

For more information on the AFO Agreement, go to: http://www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/agreements/caa/cafo-agr-0501.html

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About James Pray

Attorney with BrownWinick Law Firm in Des Moines, Iowa.
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