Missouri DNR rejects proposal to expand odor rule to all hog farms

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Dec. 4, 2017 8:35 am

CANTON, Mo. -- The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has rejected a request to change the state's rules on "odorous emissions" so they apply to all sizes of hog farms -- not just the largest operations.

Kyra Moore, director of the DNR's air pollution control program, told an attorney representing several Missouri organizations that the department has decided not to amend the rules based on the groups' petitions.

One group filing petitions was the Northeast Missouri Community Conservation Coalition, which formed earlier this year to oppose a new hog farm in Lewis County operated by Expedition Acres LLC 7 miles northwest of Canton. Also filing petitions were Friends of Responsible Agriculture and Hickory Neighbors United.

In a letter to the organizations' attorney, Stephen Jeffery, Moore said the DNR conducted "an extensive stakeholder process to discuss the regulation of odors" in 2007. She said this led to the adoption in 2010 of the current odor regulation, which only applies to emissions from the largest confined animals feeding operations, or CAFOs.

Moore told Jeffery the administrative decision not to amend the rules was based on the 2007 review along with the fact that smaller CAFOs "are subject to other statutory and regulatory requirements." She also said "additional regulatory burdens" would be imposed if smaller CAFOs were to be included in the odor rule.

After receiving Moore's response, Jeffery wrote a letter to the DNR asking that the matter be placed on the Missouri Air Conservation Commission's Dec. 7 meeting agenda for a vote by the commission. However, Jeffery said he learned the petitions would not be placed on the agenda. Instead, Moore told him in an email she planned to discuss the matter during her "director remarks" while advising the commission of the DNR's decision.

Karel Rogers of Canton, a member of the Northeast Missouri Community Conservation Coalition, said she was disappointed to hear the issue would not be placed on the commission's agenda.

"The DNR is supported by taxpayer money, but it looks to me like what they're doing is working in favor of industrial interests -- moneyed interests -- from outside the state. And they're completely ignoring the interests of in-state people," she said.

"Our property values, our health, our well-being and our homes are all being damaged" from being in close proximity to a hog farm," she said. "What we're trying to do is get them to keep their smell and ammonia and hydrogen sulfide on their own property and not allow it to just spew across the whole region."

Rogers said she feels the Missouri Air Conservation Commission should consider amending the odorous emissions rule to include all sizes of CAFOs because much more is known about the dangers of such emissions than was known 10 years ago.

For example, she pointed to two affidavits filed with the Missouri Air Conservation Commission in support of the petitions. Both were submitted by scientists who warned about health dangers associated with odorous emissions from CAFOs.

Leo Patrick Smith, medical director of the Clinical Microbiological Lab and an adjunct assistant professor for the University of Missouri's Department of Pathology and Anatomic Studies, wrote:

"It is my professional opinion, based on a reasonable scientific certainty, that odorous CAFO emissions consisting of ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, and particulate matter present a public health concern for persons who reside, work, and engage in other activities within a one-mile radius of a CAFO and the fields where waste manure from CAFOs is being land applied as fertilizer, regardless of the size of the CAFO. Thus, there does not appear any scientific basis to support the current exclusion for Class IB, IC, and Class II CAFOs from the Odor Rule."

A similar conclusion was reached by Dr. Robert Lawrence, a researcher and founding director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Livable Future -- an academic center based at the Bloomberg School of Public Health in the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering.

"Based on evidence from numerous scientific studies of swine operations, it is my professional opinion, beyond a reasonable medical certainty, that a CAFO may present a range of serious health risks to members of the surrounding community," Lawrence wrote in an affidavit.

"My public health concerns regarding CAFOs include, but are not limited to, air pollution, odors, and associated health and social impacts on communities."

Lawrence urged the Missouri Air Conservation Commission to amend the odor regulations so all sizes of CAFOs would be required to identify all sources of air emissions and prepare odor control plans. He also urged that "emission limits be established for ammonia, hydrogen sulfide and particulate matter emissions from regulated CAFOs."