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EPA Reinvigorates Farm Air Emissions Regulatory Efforts

June 13, 2018

After years of inactivity, the livestock industry-funded National Air Emissions Monitoring Study (NAEMS) is moving forward at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). NMPF staff met with senior officials at EPA in late May to discuss the agency’s plans for estimating air emissions from animal feeding operations.

NAEMS monitoring was completed on dairy, pork and poultry farms more than seven years ago, but EPA has not finalized any emission estimating methodologies for animal feeding operations. Additionally, EPA has only drafted methodologies for about one-quarter of the emissions source and pollutant combinations studied in the NAEMS. EPA was expected to develop and begin publishing emissions estimating methodologies by 2009 so the methodologies could be used by federal, state and local agencies, along with livestock industry operators, to determine compliance with the Clean Air Act and other statutory requirements.

According to the EPA’s Office of the Inspector General, delays in developing the emission estimating methodologies stem from limitations with NAEMS data, uncertainty over how to address feedback from the EPA’s Science Advisory Board, and a lack of EPA agricultural air expertise and committed resources. As a result, requirements to control emissions from individual animal feeding operations remain undetermined and enforcement protections for consent agreement participants remain in effect.

EPA stated it will issue its timeline for completing the work by July. EPA also stated that if regulatory requirements are triggered by the emission estimates, such as permits under the Clean Air Act (CAA), agriculture entities will have 120 days to apply for such a permit. It is uncertain whether some dairy operations will need permits or face other regulatory burdens. NMPF will remain engaged with EPA as this process moves forward.