Cargill announced Thursday an agreement to settle Clean Air Act claims by the U.S. Justice Department and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concerning emissions at its U.S. corn and soybean processing facilities.
The agreement, spelled out in a consent decree filed in U.S. District Court, implements substantial voluntary emission reductions at 24 Cargill facilities in 13 states. It also resolves concerns over emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that were discovered and disclosed to environmental regulatory agencies by Cargill and others in the corn milling industry.
In all, the settlement will result in more than 40,000 tons per year of emissions reductions from previous actual and permitted levels. The settlement includes a $1.6 million cash penalty as well as $3.5 million to fund community-based environmental projects and environmental improvements at Cargill plants. Twelve states and four counties are also participating in the agreement.
"This agreement achieves significant environmental benefits, resolves a compliance issue discovered and disclosed by the corn milling industry, and recognizes Cargill's strong overall environmental record," says LaRaye Osborne, Cargill vice president of environment, health and safety. "We are pleased that we were able to work cooperatively with the EPA and state and local authorities to settle this issue."
In addition to VOCs, the agreement provides control plans for nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide emitted at Cargill's corn and soy processing operations nationwide. About 90% of the settlement's emission reductions will be obtained from sources for which the government has not alleged liability.
The decree credits Cargill for voluntarily investing more than $20 million over the past eight years to reduce emissions. In some cases, the settlement codifies Cargill's recorded emissions -- already well below previous permitted levels as the new permit limit.
The settlement is the result of joint discussions with the EPA and state and county agencies signing onto the consent decree. Implementation of most aspects of the settlement will be completed within five years.