Idaho Environmental Advocates Push Back On Easing Of Air Quality Reports

Aug 22, 2018

After years of courtroom battles, it’s official: farmers and ranchers won’t have to report emissions of animal waste.

In 2007, the Environmental Protection Agency exempted ranchers from having to report how much ammonia, hydrogen sulfide and other chemicals are released into the air from animal waste under two federal programs. 

A decade later, in 2017, a federal appeals court struck down that rule. It says the EPA couldn’t carve out that exemption. But earlier this year, Congress passed a law that spares farms from filing these reports.

Recently, the EPA removed all references to the farm exemption in its regulation that are now covered under U.S. law.

Austin Hopkins with the Idaho Conservation League says that could leave downwind neighbors of these farms in the dark on what they’re breathing.

“Without these rules and without the requirement for these facilities to report what pollutants they’re releasing, these people won’t have that information available to them,” Hopkins says.

He notes these chemicals could cause long-term health problems for people breathing them in day after day.

But Cameron Mulrony, the executive vice president of the Idaho Cattle Association, says these emissions safely dissipate into the open air.

“They’re not housed in something so the concentration of them and the dilution of them would alleviate that issue,” says Mulrony.

He says if the regulation would’ve been enforced, it would've been overly burdensome.

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