A federal appeals court has denied a request for a re-hearing of a landmark air emissions environmental case. The ruling, which validates air emissions agreements between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and livestock operations, protects producers from EPA enforcement actions for past air emissions violations.
The National Pork Producers Council applauded the action which is a significant victory for the U.S. pork industry. The agreements also protect against violations that might occur while the agency conducts a monitoring study of emissions from farms.
NPPC worked with the agency to craft the agreements, which producers voluntarily signed. Nearly 2,600 animal feeding operations, including 1,856 hog operations, signed the agreements.
The re-hearing request, from California-based Association of Irritated Residents and other citizen advocacy groups, was rejected by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The groups had argued that the agreements were rules disguised as enforcement actions and that EPA did not follow proper rulemaking procedures. They wanted animal feeding operations to comply more quickly with existing federal air emissions requirements. The court disagreed.
Researchers from eight universities are currently monitoring air emissions from 24 sites in nine states. When complete, EPA will write air emissions standards for animal feeding operations.
“We applaud this ruling,” said Randy Spronk, a pork producer from Edgerton, Minn., and chairman of NPPC’s Environmental Policy Committee. “EPA and farmers simply didn’t have the science to know whether air laws were being triggered, and a one-size-fits-all approach to environmental enforcement was not fair or effective.”