| - The California Farm
Bureau intervened in a judicial review by the Ninth Circuit
Court of Appeals in San Francisco today to support a federal
decision to allow time to generate data on air quality
emissions from farms. The review examines the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency decision to grant farmers
three years to study applicability of Title V of the federal
Clean Air Act. The court is reviewing a lawsuit by
environmental activist groups aimed at removing the
Farm Bureau, the state's largest family farm
organization, supports the EPA deferral of permits on
agricultural operations for three years while information is
collected to determine the extent of emissions from production
"EPA recommended the deferral of
regulatory action on agriculture until ongoing and planned
studies are completed that could provide a more accurate
overview of agricultural emissions," said Cynthia Cory,
CFBF director of environmental affairs. "The California
Air Resources Board agrees that sufficient information does
not exist to include agricultural sources in the Title V
permit program. Regulations should be based on sound science
and reliable data. The three-year moratorium should go forward
until these two objectives are met."
Title V is a permit program under the Clean
Air Act that regulates large stationary sources that release
pollutants into the air. Permits require businesses to provide
information on the type and quantity of pollutants being
released, steps taken to mitigate the releases and monitoring.
In December 2001, federal officials approved the state's Title
V permit program in 34 air districts. The EPA deferred
requiring permits for agricultural operations for a three-year
period because they are not like traditional industrial
Cory said that several studies are underway
to develop necessary data on agricultural emissions, including
studies by the National Academy of Sciences and work by EPA
and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. "EPA states that
it considers it ambitious to evaluate existing science,
improve on assessment tools, collect additional data, remove
any remaining legal obstacles, and issue any necessary
guidance within the three-year deferral time period,"
said Cory. "We're not sitting back in the meantime.
Farmers are adopting voluntary emission control strategies,
where possible, to reduce emissions."
Two Farm Bureau members, Craig Pedersen of
Lemoore and Carlos Estacio of Turlock, were named as
individual interveners on behalf of Farm Bureau. Pedersen
grows a wide variety of commodities and has a number of
irrigation pumps. He has used state matching funds to retrofit
a number of his pumps, but because of a severe farm crisis, he
has not been able to upgrade all of his pumps at once due to
the high cost.
Pedersen said that pumps used to irrigate
his fields only run periodically during the growing season. He
said many agricultural engines have been retrofitted to
increase efficiency and to reduce emissions, and data
collection will help quantify the progress that has been made.
"Emissions from agricultural sources
are likely to be far less than what many believe," said
Pedersen. "Imposing regulations on farmers like me before
the data are generated would force added costs on my operation
at a time when other input costs are going through the roof.
It's not too much to ask that regulations be based on sound
science." Estacio operates a dairy and grows other crops.
He said the potential impact on animal operations could be
significant if regulations are imposed arbitrarily without
sufficient analysis and review.
"The state Air Resources Board has
stated that the data it has on emissions from livestock
sources is dated and incomplete," said Estacio. "We
take steps on the dairy to reduce dust and odors. We are
willing to do our part to obtain clean air, but we want it
based on current data, not assumptions."
A court briefing on the issue is currently
scheduled for April 29. Federal officials have until May 28 to
respond to the submitted documents. The California Farm Bureau
represents more than 95,000 member families in 56 counties.