Court Denies Rehearing Of Air Emissions Case

US - In a significant victory for the US pork industry, a federal appeals court on 29 November denied a request for a rehearing of a landmark environmental case. The National Pork Producers Council applauded the ruling, which upholds the validity of air emissions agreements between the US Environmental Protection Agency and livestock and poultry operations.
calendar icon 5 December 2007
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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. NPPC worked with the agency to craft the agreements, which producers voluntarily signed.

The full 10-member U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit rejected the latest legal challenge from the California-based Association of Irritated Residents and other citizen advocacy groups. A three-judge panel of the same court in July dismissed the activist groups’ petitions for review of the agreements “because exercises of EPA’s enforcement discretion are not reviewable by this court.”

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 statutory requirements. The court disagreed.

Comprehensive studies
Researchers from eight universities are 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.

“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.

“Now, because of quality scientific research and EPA’s willingness to work with America’s farms, we have a chance to see what’s really happening, and the results will help all parties make improvements where they’re truly needed.”

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