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Environmentalists file another ammonia notice with EPA

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After last week’s blog, a helpful reader told me environmental groups already have filed the proper paperwork with EPA to file another lawsuit forcing it to review the possibility of regulating ammonia as a criteria pollutant under the Clean Air Act (CAA).

Common sense suggested that after two legal defeats, the environmental groups would file the appropriate 180-day notice.

On February 1, 2016, environmental groups filed “Notice of Intent to Sue for Unreasonable Delay in Responding to a Petition for the Regulation of Ammonia as a Criteria Pollutant”. The letter is signed by the lawyers from the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP). In addition to EIP, several other groups of environmentalists are requesting EPA take action on regulating ammonia. Some  background on each one signing the letter.

EIP is a national nonprofit which attempts to enforce CAA requirements on confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) “…because these operations endanger public health and welfare with their unrestricted pollution emissions.”

Another signer, Center for Food Safety, is a nonprofit and is “…dedicated to protecting human health and the environment by curbing the proliferation of harmful food production technologies, such as AFOs, [animal feeding operations] and instead promoting sustainable agriculture. CFS represents over 700,000 farmer and consumer members throughout the country who support safe, sustainable agriculture.”

In the letter to EPA, CFS also declares “…EPA must regulate ammonia and other pollutants from factory farms in order to protect human health and the environment and create a healthier, safer food supply.”

Another signer, HSUS, also a nonprofit claims it is the largest animal protection organization in the U.S. HSUS claims it wants to “…ensure that its members are aware of and not injured by hazardous substances, including ammonia, released by AFOs.”

Another signatory to the letter is Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (ICCI), a nonprofit which claims it has thousands of members working to protect rural communities and declares, “Many ICCI members live, farm, and recreate in rural Iowa, and are directly and adversely affected by AFO ammonia emissions.“

‘Irritated residents’
The Association of Irritated Residents (AIR) is located in California and represents members who live in the San Joaquin Valley. AIR claims to have fought “…the growth of the local dairy CAFOs in the San Joaquin Valley. For many years, AIR has requested that the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District regulate ammonia as a precursor to PM 2.5 because it forms ammonium nitrate in the winter.”

The Clean Wisconsin  entity  claims its mission is to protect Wisconsin as “…a wonderful place to live, work and play.”

The final signatory is  nonprofit Food and Water Watch (FWW). “For several years, FWW has advocated for stronger regulation of pollution from industrial livestock operations.”
The background of these organizations shows their intensity and strong desire to regulate ammonia emitted from CAFOs. The letter to the Administrator of the EPA states once again “…ammonia gas harms public health and welfare in numerous ways, including directly causing acute and chronic respiratory impacts; mixing with other pollutants to form fine particulate matter, which causes respiratory symptoms, decreased lung function, aggravated asthma symptoms, heart disease, and premature death.”

The February letter claims EPA has taken five years to respond and regulate ammonia.  EPA also is accused of not even actively considering the ammonia petition. The letter claims that scientific research concludes that ambient ammonia pollution which is emitted from AFOs and CAFOs create air pollution which endangers public health and welfare. It also makes clear that “Large livestock operations are the leading source of ammonia gas emissions in the U.S.”

As I have suggested earlier, the battle over regulating ammonia emitted by CAFOs is far from over.

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Penton Agriculture.

(This article first ran in Farm Futures on October 26, 2016)

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