Why don’t we know how much livestock farms pollute the air?

America’s thousands of confinement livestock operations pollute the air every day with chemicals like ammonia, methane, and hydrogen sulfide. Yet no one tracks exactly how much air pollution these farms produce, according to a new FERN story, published with The Nation.

Despite the risks posed by waste-related emissions like ammonia and hydrogen sulfide to human health and the environment, the federal government does not know how much air pollution our country’s largest farms cumulatively produce,” Leah Douglas writes. “And as of June, the Environmental Protection Agency and Congress have together exempted a majority of those operations from complying with federal air pollution laws.

Those exemptions, facilitated in part by Trump appointees at the EPA and a Republican-controlled legislature, are the culmination of decades of dispute between environmental advocates, the agriculture industry, and regulators over how to manage farm air pollution. And they mirror the Trump administration’s deregulatory, industry-friendly approach to air emissions and pollution in other industries.”

And even if federal regulators had emissions data, “there is virtually no federal oversight of air emissions from these animal farms. At one time, the EPA was moving toward developing a regulatory process for farm air emissions. But that effort has now been underway for the better part of two decades and is far behind schedule.” This story is also available on FERN’s site.