Letter Asks Congress to Give EPA Power to Regulate Livestock Emissions

by | Feb 18, 2022

Livestock EPA

(Credit: Pixabay)

Dozens of agricultural, environmental and social groups signed a letter addressed to House and Senate Appropriations Committee leaders urging Congress to include the mandatory reporting and regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from factory farms and manure management operations in the FY 2022 Appropriation for the EPA.

The coalition says the EPA has the authority to make those regulations under the Clean Air Act, but for years it has been blocked by appropriations riders. The organizations say in the letter they want Congress to stop using such measures.

Riders essentially are amendments tacked onto appropriations bills that specifically prohibit the use of funds for designated activities.

As a result of those actions, according to the group, the EPA has been blocked from using funds to implement its greenhouse gas reporting rule for animal feeding operations, also known as factory farms, manure management and other livestock operations. Thus, the coalition says, the agency is not able to carry out any regulations or require permits under Title V of the Clean Air Act.

That means the EPA cannot monitor carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, water vapor or methane emissions resulting from biological processes associated with livestock production, the letter says.

The EPA says livestock is responsible for 25% of all agricultural greenhouse gas emissions and manure management operations make up 12% of overall agricultural emissions. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations says livestock produce 7.1 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions worldwide each year.

Efforts have been made to sustainably use waste such as manure in areas like the growing biogas market, which is expected to hit $61 billion by 2031. Emissions like methane are also a big piece of the Biden Administration’s net zero goals, and the US and European Union have pledged to reduce methane emissions by 30% by 2030.

Still, the letter says the EPA’s hands are being tied by the riders from addressing this important area.

“As leaders of the Appropriations Committees, please do all within your power to ensure EPA has the resources to hold this industry accountable for its emissions,” the letter concludes.

According to Food & Water Watch, the letter was organized by the Campaign for Family Farms and the Environment, Food & Water Watch, Friends of the Earth, Indigenous Environmental Network, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and the National Family Farm Coalition.

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