Emerging Issues, Policy and Practice

EPA Releases CAFO Emissions Data

David Cassuto (x-post from Animal Blawg)

Here’s an interesting development: EPA has released data from a national study of emissions from CAFOS  that raise pigs, broiler chickens, cattle, and turkeys.  Of course, we don’t know how interesting it is because the agency has not yet interpreted the data.  If you’re of a number-crunching bent, you can see it all here.

The two-year industry-funded study, conducted by Purdue University and overseen by the EPA encompassed 24 monitoring sites in 9 states and a separate industry study for broiler chickens in Kentucky.  The study arose from a 2005 agreement between the CAFO industry and EPA in which EPA offered to shield livestock operations from air pollution enforcement actions for past violations and for ongoing violations during a two-year study of the industry’s emissions and for an indeterminate period afterward while the study was being evaluated.            

This study followed a 2002 report by the National Academy of Sciences declaring EPA’s CAFO emissions monitoring methods inadequate and calling on the agency to develop scientifically credible methodologies.  In addition, a number of environmental groups (the Humane Society, the Association of Irritated Residents; Center on Race, Poverty, and the Environment; Clean Air Task Force; Dairy Education Alliance; El Comite para el Bienestar de Earlimart; Environmental Integrity Project; Friends of the Earth; and Waterkeeper Alliance) had petitioned EPA in 2009 to regulate greenhouse gas emissions of methane and nitrous oxide as well as other air pollutants from CAFO operations.  The petition asked EPA to list CAFO emissions as air pollutants that endanger public health and welfare and to issue new source performance standards for them under Clean Air Act Section 111.

If all goes according to plan, these data, when finally interpreted, will finally make plain the enormity of the contribution of industrial agriculture to climate change.  As a result, EPA will be compelled to forcefully regulate the industry’s emissions.  With those regulations will come increased oversight of industry practices and as a result, other pernicious behavior will face the glare of public scrutiny.  From that scrutiny will come reform.

Of course that’s if all goes according to plan.  Whose plan, you ask?  Why, my plan of course.

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