The National Pork Producers Council today applauded a federal court decision to dismiss challenges to the validity of air-emissions agreements between the Environmental Protection Agency and livestock and poultry operations was dismissed yesterday. The air-consent agreements protect animal-feeding operations from EPA enforcement actions for past air-emissions violations, as well as for violations that might occur while the agency conducts a monitoring study of emissions from farms.

 Nearly 2,600 animal feeding operations, including 1,856 hog operations, signed the agreements. The National Pork Producers Council worked with EPA to craft agreements protecting pork producers while allowing the agency to promulgate air-emissions standards for farms.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit today dismissed environmental groups’ petitions for review of the agreements “because exercises of EPA’s enforcement discretion are not reviewable by this court.” The groups argued that the agreements were rules disguised as enforcement actions and that EPA did not follow proper rulemaking procedures. They believe animal-feeding operations should be forced to comply more quickly with existing federal air-emissions statutory requirements. The court disagreed.

Said the court: “Because the [Clean Air and other] Acts apply only to emissions above specified levels, EPA cannot enforce the statutory and regulatory requirements without determining an AFO’s emissions.”

Researchers from eight universities recently began monitoring air emissions from 24 sites in nine states. When the 30-month study is complete, EPA will write air-emissions standards for animal-feeding operations.

“The air-consent agreements are necessary to take the pork industry’s environmental performance to the next level,” says Randy Spronk, a pork producer from Edgerton, Minn., and chairman of NPPC’s Environmental Policy Committee. “By working cooperatively with EPA to conduct emissions monitoring, we are developing the body of scientific knowledge on air emissions from animal agriculture that is necessary to design and implement effective mitigation measures. It is good for agriculture, good for our environment and good for the American people.”

 Source: National Pork Producers Council