EPA releases the Animal Feeding Operations Air Quality Compliance Agreement
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By Wendy Powers, Department of Animal science, Iowa State University
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recently released a proposed Air Quality Compliance Agreement with the animal industries. This agreement was posted in the Federal Register on January 31, 2005. EPA originally established a 30-d comment period that ended on March 2, 2005 and established a producer sign-up deadline of May 1, 2005. After receiving many requests to extend both the comment and sign-up periods, EPA has announced it will continue to accept comments on the compliance agreement until May 2, 2005 and has extended the producer sign-up deadline to July 1, 2005.
The agreement represents two years worth of negotiations between industry and the EPA. As part of the agreement, EPA will conduct a 24-month air emissions monitoring study of animal feeding operations (AFOs). This study is intended to determine the size and characteristics of AFOs that will exceed the threshold for permitting requirements under the Clean Air Act (CAA) and emissions reporting requirements under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA), and / or the Environmental Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986 (EPCRA). At the end of this time period, data collected by the study combined with other relevant research data available will be used by EPA to establish emission estimation methods for air pollutants from livestock housing and manure storage systems. These estimation methods will be used to establish air pollutant emissions estimates for all AFOs, not just those that participated in the agreement.
The EPA maintains that operations emitting more than 100 lbs per day of ammonia (NH3) or hydrogen sulfide (H2S) should be reporting their emissions under EPCRA and CERCLA. EPA also states that AFOs are regulated by the Clean Air Act and are subject to regulatory emission thresholds for volatile organic compounds (VOC), particulate matter (PM), ammonia (NH3) and hydrogen sulfide (H2S). All of the above emissions will be monitored as part of the agreement. At the end of the study period, EPA will use the data collected as well as other existing available data, to develop tools that will allow producers to determine if they need to obtain a CAA permit and / or install mitigation practices as well as determine if they need to report emissions under the CERCLA or EPCRA rules.
What the agreement provides for producers who sign up
The consent agreement provides protection against past violations of the CAA, CERCLA and EPCRA to producers who sign up, meet all of the conditions, and complete their obligations. The agreement is being offered to the egg, broiler chicken, turkey, dairy and swine industries that house animals under a roof. Air pollutant emissions addressed under the agreement include only those emissions from animal housing and manure storages. Animal manure land application areas are not included. Operations that are covered under the agreement, will receive a limited, conditional covenant not to be sued by EPA and liability release from EPA for any past violations up to the time that the operation reports its CERCLA or EPCRA releases and applies for any needed CAA permits as required in the agreement. Failure to comply with the terms of the agreement (outlined below), at any time, will terminate the covenant. An operation can receive an agreement from EPA by signing up and meeting the requirements as an individual farm or by having an integrator sign up, meet the requirements, and list your operation in the paperwork.
What producers who sign up agree to do
Producers who sign up before the July 1 deadline are agreeing to the following prior to the monitoring study:
- To provide the information requested on the Farm and Emission Unit Information sheets (Appendix A of the Federal Register notice; downloaded from www.epa.gov)
- To volunteer their operation as a study site and provide all of the necessary information that is part of the data collection process (Appendix B of the Federal Register notice; downloaded from www.epa.gov) and accept the study protocols and the findings, regardless of any collateral proceeding. Only a limited number of sites will actually be used as monitoring locations, but all producers who sign must be willing to serve as a monitoring sight if selected.
- To pay a civil penalty without admission of liability. EPA agrees not to sue producers who participate in the agreement in the future for past violations because they have already paid the penalty.
- To contribute a maximum of $2500 per farm to a fund from which the air monitoring study will be funded.
- To comply with all State and local authorities that address nuisance from an AFO
- To report estimated releases of NH 3 within 120 days after receiving a signed agreement solely for the purposes of the agreement, and not for the purpose of CERCLA or EPCRA reporting. This will apply only to operations that confine more than 25,000 swine weighing over 55 lbs, 100,000 swine weighing less than 55 lbs, 820,000 laying hens, 1,250,000 broiler chickens, 550,000 turkeys, 7,000 mature dairy cows or 10,000 dairy heifers. At this point it is unclear how such estimates will be made.
After the monitoring study ends, producers with signed agreements agree to the following, in order to avoid nullifying their covenant:
- To certify to EPA that no CAA requirements or CERCLA or EPCRA notifications are needed, based on the study findings and EPA's resulting emissions estimate tools. This must be completed within 60 days after EPA publishes the Emissions-Estimating Methodologies.
- To submit a CAA permit application, if applicable, within 120 days after EPA publishes the Emissions-Estimating Methodologies. For sources located in attainment areas that exceed 250 tons per year (approximately 1370 lbs per day) of any single pollutant addressed by the CAA, Best Achievable Control Technologies (BACT) must be installed. Emissions thresholds requiring permitting vary from 10 to 100 tons per year in non-attainment areas and vary by pollutant.
- To report any qualifying releases of NH 3 and H 2 S in accordance with CERCLA and EPCRA within 120 days after EPA publishes the Emissions-Estimating Methodologies.
- To install all emissions control equipment and implement all control practices required by the agreement or contained in the CAA within 30 days of acknowledgement that the operation must comply.
A farm has the option to agree to install a waste-to-energy system and process at least 50% of the volume of waste generated by the farm to produce electricity. This option provides the farm an additional 180 days to come into compliance with emission regulations.
Currently, the National Pork Board and the United Egg Producers have contributed funding to support the air monitoring study ($6 million and $2.8 million, respectively). However, in order to monitor the proposed 16 sites, representing eggs, broiler chickens, swine, dairy and turkeys, additional resources are needed and an adequate number of farms must volunteer for the study. At the end of the sign-up period, EPA will determine if a sufficient number of AFOs have elected to participate. If the total number is insufficient, EPA will not sign any agreements and will not comply with the monitoring study. If the total number of participants is sufficient but within a particular species or type of operation there is insufficient participation, EPA may decline to sign agreements with those operations and will not proceed with the monitoring of that type of operation. The EPA will make these determinations within 30 days of the end of the sign-up period (i.e., by August 1, 2005).
Penalties, without admission of liability, will be assessed to all producers who sign-up and receive an executed agreement from EPA. The amount of the penalty is based on the size of an operation.
Planned monitoring locations
Emissions monitoring is proposed to be conducted at farms that represent the major animal sectors, types of operations, and different geographic locations. Below is a table that outlines the proposed characteristics of the 16 sites that have been recommended as the ideal number of monitoring locations. In many cases, a farm will have multiple housing measurements (barns) that will be monitored.
- The comment period, ends May 1, 2005
- The sign-up period, ends July 1, 2005
- EPA signs all agreements within 30 days of closing the sign-up period
- Penalties for all agreements signed by EPA are due within 30 days from receipt of an executed contract
- Large farms (operations that confine more than 25,000 swine weighing over 55 lbs, 100,000 swine weighing less than 55 lbs, 820,000 laying hens, 1,250,000 broiler chickens, 550,000 turkeys, 7,000 mature dairy cows or 10,000 dairy heifers) must report estimated releases of NH3 within 120 days after receiving a signed agreement solely for the purposes of the agreement, and not for the purpose of CERCLA or EPCRA reporting.
- 24 month monitoring study begins
- EPA publishes the Emissions-Estimating Methodologies within 18 months of completing the monitoring study
- Farms covered by the agreement must certify to EPA that they are not in violation of the CAA, CERCLA or EPCRA within 60 days after EPA publishes the Emissions-Estimating Methodologies, or
- Farms must apply for a CAA permit and report any qualifying releases of NH3 and H2S within 120 days after EPA publishes the Emissions-Estimating Methodologies
- Farms must certify to EPA that any necessary emission control equipment is installed and all required practices are implemented within 30 days of determination that they are out of compliance.
Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. OAR-2004- 0237, by one of the following methods:
- Agency Web site: EDOCKET, EPA's electronic public docket and comment system, is EPA's preferred method for receiving comments. Follow the on-line instructions for submitting comments.
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Fax: (202) 566-1741.
- Mail: Air Docket, Environmental Protection Agency, Mailcode: 6102T, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20460. Please include a total of two copies.
- Hand Delivery: Environmental Protection Agency, 1301 Constitution Avenue, NW., Room B102, Washington, DC 20460. Such deliveries are only accepted during the Docket's normal hours of operation, and special arrangements should be made for deliveries of boxed information.
- Instructions: Direct your comments to Docket ID No. OAR-2004-0237.
- The EPA's policy is that all comments received will be included in the public docket without change and may be made available online, including any personal information provided.
The sign-up process
- Producers and integrators should consult legal counsel to help determine whether or not they should participate in this study.
- Those who decide to participate need to complete the
Farm and Emission Unit Information sheets (Appendix A of the Federal
Register notice; downloaded from www.epa.gov) and mail the signed
Special Litigation and Projects Division (2248A)
Attn: Air Compliance Agreements
Office of Regulatory Enforcement
Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington , D.C. 20460
- While completing Appendix A (the agreement forms) producers should also consult Appendix B so that they are aware of the type of information that will be collected during the monitoring study, including what information they will need to provide. Recall, the sign-up period ends on July 1, 2005.