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Agriculture - Air Monitoring

Fact Sheet - The National Air Emissions Monitoring Study: Data Availability and Call for Additional Information

Study Data Available

  • On Jan. 13, 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency made data available from the National Air Emissions Monitoring Study, a two-year examination of air emissions from poultry, swine and dairy animal feeding operations (AFOs). EPA will examine data from the study, along with additional data it receives as a result of a “Call for Information” to develop improved methods for estimating AFO emissions.
  • The monitoring study was funded by the AFO industry as part of a 2005 voluntary air compliance agreement with EPA. Twenty-four sites at AFOs in nine states were monitored, with EPA oversight, over two years for particulate matter, ammonia, hydrogen sulfide and volatile organic compounds, some of the pollutants more commonly emitted from AFOs. Greenhouse gas emissions were not measured as part of this study.
  • AFOs monitored included those raising pigs and broiler chickens, egg-laying operations, and dairies. Participating AFOs made their operations available for monitoring for two years and have worked closely with the researchers, industry experts and EPA in conducting the study.
  • In addition to monitoring the key pollutants, Purdue University researchers gathered data on how animals are managed at the feeding operations, including numbers of animals, how they are housed, and how their waste is managed. They also gathered data on weather.
  • A separate industry study monitored emissions from a broiler chicken site in Kentucky for one year.  The industry also worked closely with EPA during that study and followed EPA monitoring and quality assurance guidelines.
  • EPA is now examining all of this information as it works to develop emissions estimation methodologies for the AFO sectors that were monitored. Such methodologies are commonly used to estimate emissions from industries where site-specific monitoring data are not available. A 2002 report by the National Academy of Sciences called on EPA to develop scientifically credible methodologies for estimating emissions from AFOs.

About the Call for Information

  • At the request of the AFO industry, EPA is issuing a “Call for Information,” seeking any additional peer-reviewed monitoring data on AFO emissions, along with information about how animals and waste are managed at specific sites.
  • EPA is requesting quality-assured data on emissions of ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, particulate matter, and volatile organic compounds, along with information about processes at the operations, including how animals are housed or managed, and how manure is stored and treated. The agency is asking for this information for operations that raise pigs, broiler chickens, turkeys and beef cattle, and for egg-laying and dairy cattle operations. Submitting this information is not required; however, it will help EPA ensure that it has the best available information as it develops the improved emissions estimating methodologies. Once the Call for Information is published in the Federal Register, the public will have 45 days to submit data to help improve the methodologies.
  • EPA will make the draft methodologies available for public comment by animal type, beginning with the methodology for broiler chickens in early 2011. The agency anticipates finalizing the methodologies in June 2012.

About the Air Compliance Agreement

  • EPA announced the voluntary Air Compliance Agreement in 2005, with goals of reducing air pollution, monitoring AFO emissions, promoting a national consensus on emissions estimating methodologies, and ensuring compliance with requirements of the Clean Air Act and notification provisions of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA).
  • EPA worked with industry representatives, state and local governments, environmental groups and other stakeholders to develop the voluntary agreement. Approximately 2,600 AFOs, representing nearly 14,000 facilities, received EPA approval to participate.
  • Participating AFOs paid a civil penalty of between $200 and $100,000, based on the size and number of facilities in their operation. They also contributed to a fund to cover the cost of the monitoring study.
  • As part of the agreement, EPA agreed not to sue participating AFOs for certain past violations of the Clean Air Act, CERCLA and EPCRA, provided that the AFOs comply with the agreement’s conditions. However, the agreement does not limit EPA’s ability to take action in the event of imminent and substantial danger to public health or the environment. It also preserves state and local authorities’ ability to enforce local odor or nuisance laws.
  • Once EPA publishes final emissions estimating methodologies for an AFO’s animal sector, that AFO must apply the final methodologies to determine what actions, if any, it must take to comply with all applicable Clean Air Act, CERCLA and EPCRA requirements.

For Additional Information

 

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