Last week the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that there would not be a rehearing of a case that established air emissions agreements between the Environmental Protection agency and livestock operations. The same court dismissed the California-based Association of Irritated Residents and other citizen advocacy groups' petitions for review of the agreements in July.
Nearly 2,600 animal feeding operations, including 1,856 hog operations, signed the agreements, which 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. The activist groups argued that the agreements were rules disguised as enforcement actions and that EPA didn’t follow proper rulemaking procedures.
Randy Spronk, Chairman of the National Pork Producers Council’s Environmental Policy Committee, says the decision allows a 30-month research study at Purdue University to move forward.
"We can actually get real time, factual data off of poultry, dairy and swine facilities," Spronk says. "This is data that will be accepted by the Environmental Protection Agency."
The data will be used by EPA to write air emission standards for animal feeding operations that were dictated by the Clean Air Act.
Spronk says the groups could decide to take the case to a higher court.
"Whether they will challenge again or not, I don't know," Spronk says. "But EPA and the governmental agencies that are defending this just proving again and again that we are headed down the right road."