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Bill would require MDE to monitor large poultry operations

Senior Editor

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (March 14, 2017) — A bill has been introduced in the Maryland Senate, which would require the state’s Department of the Environment to check the emissions from large scale poultry operations for violations of clean air regulations.
The bill, SB 773, introduced by Sen. Robert Madelano, a Montgomery County Democrat, is drawing the opposition and the ire of the Maryland Farm Bureau and the Delmarva poultry industry.
SB 773, called the Community Healthy Air Act of Maryland brought to the attention of Central Maryland lawmakers by the Assateague Coastal Trust, is viewed as another swipe at Maryland’s billion-dollar poultry and livestock industries.
In summary, the bill would require the Maryland Department of the Environment to conduct an environmental assessment of both MDE’s and the livestock industry’s compliance with state and federal air quality laws and regulations.
The report must be conducted by July 1, 2018 and a report filed by Oct. 1, 2018.
The bill requires the Maryland Department of the Environment, in its report to identify all air pollutants emitted from concentrated animal feeding operations in the state; include air quality monitoring data from all CAFOs in accordance with a new air monitoring program MDE will have to create; identify all state and federal laws and regulations related to air pollutant emissions that apply to CAFOs; and, finally, identify specific exemptions or exceptions to state or federal laws and regulations related to air pollutant emissions from CAFOs.
In a two-page statement of opposition, the Maryland Farm Bureau points out that large scale federal emission studies have shown no reason for action.
The Environmental Protection Agency tried to measure emissions from CAFOs with a comprehensive federal level program that started in 2005.
The EPA signed agreements with 2,568 operators; 13,900 farms in 42 states paid between $200 and $100,000, based on size, to fund the monitoring study.
The sample included 90 percent of the largest CAFOs and included 1,856 swine, 468 dairy, 204 egg-laying and 40 broiler operations.
EPA and Purdue University began the National Air Emissions Monitoring Study in 2007.
The data showed that no farms reached EPA’s Clean Air Act threshold for particulate matter.
The Environmental Protection Agency has not moved forward with new rules or requirements for CAFOs.
In its statement of opposition, Maryland Farm Bureau declared that it “does not believe that MDE can or should conduct a monitoring study that repeats the work already undertaken by the federal government over multiple years,” adding that the work would be “cost prohibitive.”
Bill Satterfield, DPI executive director, viewed the mandates of the bill from a logistical standpoint. He put it this way:
“Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc. is concerned about how MDE will be able in one year, as called for in the bill, to identify all pollutants coming out of CAFOs; establish the research protocol; determine where to place the monitoring equipment; buy and install all the necessary monitoring equipment; hire and train persons to install and monitor these air monitoring stations; pay persons to collect and compile the data; and prepare a report to the General Assembly by Oct. 1, 2018, one year after enactment of this bill, without any scientifically-defensible conclusions.
“That,” said Satterfield, “is an impossible task.”