Dairies with thousands of cows will not face air pollution regulations for now, the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission has decided.
The governor-appointed five commissioners were submitted by 20 environmental, animal welfare, and social justice groups that called on the state to regulate hazardous emissions from dairy farms with more than 700 cattle. In response to May’s petition, it issued its verdict on Wednesday. Each year these dairy cows produce large amounts of manure and urine containing ammonia gas. Ammonia gas is harmful to breathing and can cause burns to the eyes, nose and throat and can cause long-term respiratory problems.
The decision followed a recommendation from the Environmental Quality Agency that the group wait to see if the Federal Environmental Protection Agency would release guidelines for monitoring and regulating air pollution from industrial dairy products. has been working towards such a regulatory program for at least the last 15 years.
At a committee meeting, DEQ interim director Leah Feldon said her agency lacked the funding to create such a program. She said it should work with the Oregon Department of Agriculture to create it and gather more information about the impact of emissions on communities closest to the state’s largest dairy farm.
Commission Chair Kathleen George asked DEQ staff to return within a year with more data on the impact of these emissions.
There was a disagreement during the meeting. Commissioner Amy Schlasser said she was concerned the state wasn’t doing enough.
“I don’t think lack of information per se justifies lack of action when risks and potential risks are well understood,” she said.
Emily Miller, an attorney at the nonprofit environmental group Food and Water Watch, one of the petitioners calling on the state to regulate CAFO emissions in dairy products, said people in Morrow County, home to the state’s largest dairy plant, said: He told the committee that it would be difficult to explain to Institutions and leaders do not protect them.
“They report high rates of asthma and other respiratory problems not only among dairy workers themselves, but also among their children and families. It poses a serious threat and it is past the time for this commission to address it,” she said.
Attempts to regulate emissions from large dairy farms are now up to the Oregon legislature, Miller said.
Environmentalists have called on state legislatures to suspend all kinds of new confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) that they deem environmentally harmful and cruel to animals.
Food and Water Watch analysis shows that the number of cattle in Oregon has more than tripled over the past 30 years, and the number of farms with 1,000 or more cattle is also increasing. In 1997, he had eight dairy farms in Oregon with over 1,000 cows. Today, it’s almost nine times that number. The largest in Morrow County, Three Mile Canyon is home to 70,000 cattle.
Commissioner Greg Addington, who will become executive director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture in the coming weeks, said there wasn’t enough information to suggest regulating dairy farms was the best way to tackle the air quality problem. The department represents 6,700 farmers, including some who own large dairy farms.
Admitting that the environmental quality department has a limited budget, he said, “I was just wondering if this would give the best results from an air quality standpoint.
Addington said the 700-cattle run is non-industrial and a normal size for a modern family-owned dairy farm in Oregon.
The Environmental Protection Agency characterizes over 700 cattle as a large undertaking.
This latest petition marks the third time in 15 years that proponents have asked Oregon to regulate dairy air emissions.
In 2007, the State Legislature created the Dairy Air Quality Task Force, made up of local and state officials, scientists, public health experts, environmental groups, and the dairy industry.
They studied dairy emissions and the effects of methane, ammonia, and small airborne particles from animals and manure, and strongly recommended that states create an air emissions program for dairy products, but the law proposed It was never done.
In 2017, another regulatory attempt fell through, with the Senate rejecting a bill to create a permit program for dairy air pollution.