A late surge in a voluntary federal program to monitor air quality on farms should provide enough participation to develop enforceable emission standards, according to federal regulators.
More than 2,000 animal feeding operations signed up before the Aug. 12 deadline, EPA officials said - nearly double the number of participants enrolled just two weeks ago.
Under the agreement crafted at the request of livestock producers, EPA will work with Purdue University, the independent monitoring contractor supervising the study, over the next two years to monitor emissions at a sample cluster of no more than 30 hog, poultry, egg and dairy farms. Following the study will be two more years of data review.
The agency will determine the regulatory thresholds for emissions such as ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, volatile organic compounds and dust - the same factory pollutants the EPA now regulates.
"We're delighted with the terrific response we've had to the consent agreement," says Jon Scholl, an agricultural adviser to EPA Administrator Steve Johnson. "This certainly has met and exceeded our expectations."
The 2,200 estimated participants - enrollment forms are still being processed - represent between 3,000 and 4,000 farms in at least 37 states, adds Bob Kaplan, an attorney in the EPA's enforcement office.
The air quality monitoring study is expected to begin in May 2006.