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USDA Agricultural Air Quality Task Force

USDA Agricultural Air Quality Task Force

USDA Agricultural Air Quality Task Force

Meeting Minutes

May 1, 2002

Jamie L. Whitten Building, Williamsburg Room

1400 Independence Avenue SW

Washington, D.C.

 

 

Members present:

Viney Aneja                                         Wayne Robarge

Bob Avant                                            Kevin Rogers

Emmett Barker                                     Annette Sharp

Mark Boese                                         Sally Shaver

Tom Coleman                                       John Sweeten

Manuel Cunha                                      Michael Unsworth

Bob Flocchini                                       Phil Wakelyn

Kelley Green                                        Stephanie Whalen

Roger Isom                                          Phyllis Woodford

Calvin Parnell                                      

Gary Margheim, Acting Chair

 

Other NRCS Support Staff:

Beth Sauerhaft (Designated Federal Official)

John Beyer                                           Jeff Schmidt

John Brenner                                        Ray Sinclair

Elvis Graves                                         Roel Vining

Liz Rogers                                           

 

Other EPA Support Staff:

Penny Lassiter, Linda Metcalf, Randy Waite

 

Other Federal Personnel:

Jim Moseley, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture

Mack Gray, Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment

Nancy Bryson, OGC, NHQ                 Deb Atwood, Confidential Asst. to Mr. Moseley

Dick Amerman, ARS, NHQ                 David Mobley, EPA

Ray Knighton, CSREES, NHQ            Jean-Mari Peltier, EPA, NHQ

Ed Knipling, ARS                                 Dan Kugler, CSREES

 

Public Citizens:

Mavis Bermudez, Sierra Club

Jamie Jonker, National Academy of Sciences

Michele Merkel, Environmental Integrity Project

Martha Noble, Sustainable Air Coalition

John Walke, Natural Resources Defense Council

 

The Agricultural Air Quality Task Force meeting was called to order by Beth Sauerhaft, the Designated Federal Official.  Acting Chair Gary Margheim welcomed everyone to Washington, D.C., made a few announcements, and informed the group that because the Ag conferees would be releasing the new Farm Bill sometime that morning, the Task Force could have access to the bill that afternoon.

Dr. Margheim announced that Clinton Reeder had resigned from the Task Force, and he read a few paragraphs from Mr. Reeder’s letter of resignation. The Task Force accepted the resignation.

Deputy Undersecretary Mack Gray shared a few words of greeting and praise with the Task Force directing them to continue their good work as it will be vital to agriculture over the coming years, and then Dr. Margheim asked Beth Sauerhaft to present the minutes from the last meeting on January 16 and 17, 2002. Dr. Sauerhaft mentioned that she had made a few changes to the minutes since sending them out the members before the meeting, so Dr. Wakelyn suggested that the Task Force wait until the following day to approve the minutes; at the prerogative of the Chairman, Dr. Margheim so ordered.

Dr. Margheim recognized Ray Knighton, Dick Amerman, and Beth Sauerhaft for their work on the previous day’s tour of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, and the other facilities, and then he turned the meeting over to Sally Shaver for the EPA update. Ms. Shaver introduced David Mobley, Division Director for EPA’s Missions Measurement and Analysis Division, who presented information on the particulate matter (PM) monitoring and speciation work being conducted across the country and some of the data that have been collected. He shared the initial results from their mass monitoring network and the analysis of its first three years of data. Mr. Mobley said they are beginning to understand what they will need to do for control approaches, and they are aware of the agriculture issues and are trying to address them as they proceed.

Manuel Cunha exhorted Mr. Mobley and his staff to remember that farming is very much controlled by the market and the consumer for trade issues.  Farms can change their farming practices within three months from what they normally grow to something different because of the market demand.” He urged Mr. Mobley’s department to seriously consider these fluctuations in agriculture practices when they recommend control measures that can cost farmers a great deal of money.

Viney Aneja asked Mr. Mobley what percentage of the monitoring sites are in rural agricultural environments. Mr. Mobley replied that out of the 1100 monitors in the country, only 33 are in counties with more than 75% agriculture practice, and no super sites are located in a true rural agricultural environment.

Calvin Parnell shared that research at A&M demonstrated that when sampling with the PM2.5 FRM sampler in an environment such as [unclear] is larger than 2.5 then we get a bias. Although the goal of EPA is to do ambient sampling, states don’t necessarily support that concept. They want to put the sampler at a property line or near agricultural sources and then address that saying, they have an exceedence of PM2.5 24-hour standards, so therefore we have a problem. The impression from a standpoint of states is that that’s an EPA-approved sampler, and therefore that must be PM2.5. And that sampler we know is actually over-sampling the concentration.  How do we address that issue?

Mobley replied saying EPA hopes that most states follow EPA guidance and are locating their monitors in an area that would not be influenced by a single source or source category. EPA has done a number of studies to determine the penetration rates of particles greater than 2.5 and found that while the situation described can occur, EPA hasn’t seen significant problems with that. The penetration rates over time for monitors and zones with particles known to be, or thought to be, greater than PM2.5, have still come out with a cut point that represents the PM2.5 category.

Wayne Robarge asked that, assuming EPA’s database will be available to the public, is it conceivable that states will make one interpretation of the database, and you will make another interpretation based on your quality assurance review of the data.

Mobley responded that the data are currently available to the public on the AIRS computer system.  As the regulatory process proceeds, there will be a give-and-take round between EPA and the states, and Dr. Wakelyn suggested that states would view the data a little bit differently than does the AAQTF.  The discussions of designations between states and EPA will be in the public domain as that proceeds.

Kevin Rogers raised questions about the placement of monitors for specific measurements (for example, near a feed yard). He was concerned that such specific data could later be reported to county or state monitoring networks and then pooled with the more general data. Mr. Mobley agreed that everyone needs to be aware of such specialized applications that could end up with a different application in the end.

Calvin Parnell also expressed some serious concerns that state agencies and regulators could set up monitors near agriculture sites, take PM10 and PM2.5 samples, get multiple exceedences of 24-hour concentration because the farmers are out disking or such, and then use that data to “cause difficulties for farmers in this country.” Dr. Parnell understood that collecting these kinds of samples could be valuable to EPA’s work, but he believed that the use of this particular monitoring methodology could cause difficulties for specific agricultural operations (for example, setting a sampler adjacent to a farmer’s property to demonstrate exceedences and then force him to change his operation). Mr. Mobley replied, “In the sense that ambient air is defined as any area that the public has access to, and the ambient air quality standard would apply to that zone, no, I can’t say it’s an inappropriate use.”

Viney Aneja asked if EPA is considering the creation of a super site for rural/agricultural-related issues, as well as a model for rural areas. Mr. Mobley answered that the existing super site programs will be shutting down when the funding (a one-time appropriation from Congress) is expended, so EPA does not anticipate even continuing those sites, much less expanding to new sites. However, if the Task Force wished to recommend a super site in a rural area, they should make the recommendation to the appropriation committee so the monies can come with it.

Stephanie Whalen shared more concerns about the monitoring technique being used for PM2.5 and the increased possibility of having more errors in rural areas than in urban areas because the rural sampling zones tend to be more likely to be dominated by particles greater than PM2.5 that will penetrate the samplers. Mr. Mobley concurred that this was theoretically possible, but he said they had analyzed samples in all areas to ensure that they were not getting unusual penetration of large particles; he mentioned an Arizona road dust study as one such test. Ms. Whalen requested copies of the Arizona study for all Task Force members.

Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, Jim Moseley, arrived and introductions were made.  The Deputy Secretary expressed his appreciation of the work the Task Force had done, and he said it was “very clear” that the Task Force would be reauthorized to continue.   The Deputy Secretary formally recognized Chairman Reed for his leadership and guidance of the Task Force.

Mr. Moseley asked the Task Force to help him understand what the major air quality issues are, what needs to be done, and specifically, what role USDA can play to ensure the development of reasonable solutions to the challenges our country faces. Annette Sharp shared with the Deputy Secretary the urgency of developing scientifically-based emissions factors for agricultural processes, particularly animal issues and burning, because the states must submit SIPs in the year 2004.

Manuel Cunha focused on the desperate need for agricultural air quality research, especially in those areas prioritized in the Task Force’s research document. He called for increased funding for air quality research, particularly through USDA’s ARS and CSREES, to provide the good science needed to support American farmers.

Bob Avant repeated the importance of getting USDA to shift gears on some of their research priorities to make sure they have good science to use to intervene in the rulemaking process. Once the research is done, there needs to be an extension component so that the farmers are advised of the best management practices to comply with the law. Mr. Avant also stressed the need for USDA to be an advocate for agriculture in communicating the concerns of air quality work to EPA and the other regulatory entities, and for USDA to intervene in some of the most important rulemaking activities and litigation when they affect the viability of American agriculture.

Roger Isom stated that the Task Force’s top concern is getting more air quality research and more funding for that work. John Sweeten added that the livestock feeding industry needs answers in the form of best management practices that are borne of sound science, and that will solve both water quality and air quality issues.

Dr. Sweeten suggested that an interagency program be created for air quality—something analogous to that established for water quality by the 1990 Farm Bill. The program could unite a number of agencies to work together to conduct the research, education, and technology transfer directly to producers, and to stay out ahead of the regulatory agencies. Wayne Robarge agreed with this suggestion, adding that dealing with air quality issues such as odor and pathogen dispersal will require a long-term commitment to proper science and proper funding. Phyllis Woodford concurred.

Kevin Rogers stated that because of a lawsuit, farmers and ranchers in Maricopa County, Arizona, are now living under strict guidelines that are not science-based. However, because they have something in place that is now legal, whether based on science or not, Arizona’s regulations threaten to be repeated all across the agriculture belt in a sort of domino effect—“because it’s easy to promulgate rules and it’s difficult to have the science to do it.” The Deputy Secretary requested a background briefing on the situation in Maricopa County.

Stephanie Whalen declared that farmers are calling for best management practices that have scientifically-proven results and that can demonstrate clear environmental benefits. Mark Boese and Calvin Parnell reiterated the need for appropriate science to ensure that agriculture is fairly regulated.

Deputy Secretary Moseley wrapped up the discussion, saying, “I’ve heard your message very loud and clear, and you have my commitment to work through the process” of funding research. He then called for further information on the situation in Arizona and on the highest priorities for research. He also asked for a very clear and rational accounting of the resources needed for that research.

Before the Deputy Secretary left, Gary Margheim and the Task Force recognized Mr. Pearlie Reed in absentia for his outstanding contributions to the Agricultural Air Quality Task Force.

After a break, Bob Flocchini introduced Jamie Jonker from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) who briefed the Task Force on the progress of the NAS scientific assessment of emissions from animal feeding operations. The National Academy Committee has submitted an interim report through the National Research Council (NRC) for a detailed review. Once the NRC coordinator and monitor approve the report, it will be available for the public.  Copies will be made available to Task Force members. The committee anticipates issuing its final report in October of 2002. The interim report responds to a specific set of questions that EPA requested the study to address; the final report will focus on some of the broader issues beyond those specific questions.

Bob Flocchini, who serves on the National Academy Committee, explained the general process the committee has followed for their report, but he could not disclose any specific information.

Next, Gary Margheim asked Jean-Mari Peltier to give her EPA update.  Ms. Peltier began by complimenting the committee on the presentations that they made to Deputy Secretary Moseley that morning. Just as the Deputy Secretary had done, Ms. Peltier committed to the Task Force to work with Sally Shaver to carry the message back to EPA about the need for heightened coordination, especially on the research fund. She reported that currently there is “an unprecedented level of coordination” between the Department of Agriculture and EPA. Secretary Veneman and Administrator Whitman meet monthly, and they have sent the message down through the agencies that everyone is to coordinate and work very closely together. That very afternoon, USDA and EPA would be starting to create an interagency work group for implementation of the new Farm Bill.

Mark Boese inquired about the progress being made with the reformulation of pesticides, specifically as it relates to reducing or eliminating petroleum-based carriers. Ms. Peltier replied that volatile organic compounds (VOC) emissions associated with pesticide use were definitely an issue “that we need to get on the federal radar screen.”

Dan Kugler, Deputy Administrator for Natural Resources in the Environment, at the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) expressed his eagerness to learn more about air quality issues, and appreciated hearing the comments the Task Force shared with Deputy Secretary Moseley.  CSREES has requested doubling the National Research Initiative (NRI), raising its funding to $240 million, and they are considering creating a subprogram on air quality. When CSREES has its budget for 2003, they will prepare a call for proposals that recognizes the air quality research identified by the Task Force.

He also mentioned that the Farm Bill includes a program called the Initiative for the Future of Agricultural and Food Systems (IFAFS), and a good portion of the CSREES money that has been dedicated to air quality has come through the IFAFS program. The Farm Bill calls for IFAFS funding to go from $120 to $200 million, which could mean more money for air quality research.

Stephanie Whalen asked what the possibility would be of creating a stand-alone program on air quality that is directed by the recommendations of this Task Force should CSREES secure these increases in funding. Mr. Kugler responded that with the National Research Initiative, there is a period of time during which the request for applications is prepared and input is sought concerning the priority needs within the country. Those issues are then factored into and explicitly listed in the call for proposals.

Bob Avant expressed his frustration with not seeing some fairly significant amount of money reprogrammed for air quality research when it is “a priority area that could bring agriculture to its knees.” He informed the Acting Chair that he intends to introduce a resolution reiterating the importance of air quality being made a stand-alone research program and being granted adequate funds to do the job.

Beth Sauerhaft opened up the public comment period for the morning session, and John Brenner introduced the first speaker, Michele Merkel from the Environmental Integrity Project. Ms. Merkel expressed concern that the Task Force seemed to be going beyond its mission of coordinating research on agricultural air quality issues and was trying to influence EPA’s decisions on the permitting of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and on regulation and enforcement. She was particularly upset about the Task Force’s recommendations to defer the reporting of ammonia emissions under CERCLA until EPA defined the application of Clean Air Act requirements for CAFO facilities.

Annette Sharp thanked Ms. Merkel for sharing her opinion, but Ms. Sharp refuted Ms. Merkel’s presentation of the enforcement action against PSF. Ms. Sharp also stated that 40CFR part 70 grants any industry group, including groups like the Task Force, the right to go before the Administrator of EPA and request that a particular industry be put aside or not regulated until such time as emission factors are developed.

The next speaker was Mavis Bermudez from the Sierra Club; she said she was submitting comments on behalf of a colleague of hers who could not attend the meeting at the last minute. Ms. Bermudez illustrated the detrimental effects of CAFOs on air quality and explained why the Sierra Club feels it is necessary to regulate these air emissions.

John Walke, the Director of Clean Air Programs with the Natural Resources Defense Council, was the third speaker. Mr. Walke formally requested that the Task Force expand the composition of its body to include environmental group representatives and thereby provide better balance to the committee.

He also said he concurred with Michele Merkel’s conclusions with respect to the Task Force’s past policy directions, and believed those policy directions reflected the interest of the industry representatives to a greater extent than what he thought sound policy would dictate in the name of air quality and public health protection.

The last public speaker was Martha Noble from the Sustainable Air Culture Coalition, a Washington, D.C.-based group representing 13 organizations from the Midwest. Since about 1989, Ms. Noble has worked on CAFO air quality issues, and she has noticed that most of the action taken against CAFOs has been initiated by the operations’ rural neighbors “who are watching an industrialization occur in agricultural zones with none of the protections that were provided in industrial zones.” Ms. Noble also suggested that a few representatives of public health authorities be added to the Task Force to give the committee greater credibility with rural grass roots communities.

The afternoon session began with Ms. Annette Sharp presenting an update on the Regional Planning Organizations (RPOs), which are charged with addressing regional haze and related issues. She described the make-up of the different RPOs and their current work on major and minor pollutant sources, including mobile sources and area sources and their work to develop long-term strategies for controlling 26 categories of sources, primarily point sources.

With respect to agriculture, Regional Planning Organizations will be identifying emissions from dust and smoke and including them in state emissions inventories. Ms. Sharp stated that if there are no studies from which to draw better emissions factors based on science, the states will use AP-42. The RPOs will also be working very closely with the federal agencies that are in charge of prescribed burns to develop smoke management plans.

Bob Flocchini related that the IMPROVE data set is better than AP-42, and he suggested the RPOs consider using that data.

Manuel Cunha mentioned that the WRAP is starting some research on PM10 and PM2.5, and he asked if they are making a very concerted effort to coordinate with those states that already have such information. David Mobley replied that EPA communicates frequently with the WRAP, and they are all coordinating their efforts as they move forward. Mr. Cunha requested that Mr. Mobley prepare a report on this coordination effort for the next Task Force meeting; Mr. Mobley agreed.

Ed Knipling from the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) gave a quick overview of the Air Quality Research Program. Dr. Knipling said that air quality is one of ARS’s 22 designated national programs, and there are elements of air quality in many of the other national programs, such as manure and byproduct utilization, and methyl bromide alternatives. ARS has about $8.5 million in their base program related to air quality, and it is allocated to 15 laboratory locations across the country, comprising the work of 27 scientists (in FTEs).  The current base program has five program components: particulate emissions, ammonia and ammonium emissions, malodorous compounds, ozone, and pesticide and other synthetic organic compounds.

Dr. Knipling then addressed the Task Force’s proposed $20 million increase within USDA for air quality research, and the additional $10 million that the increase would designate for the ARS program. ARS is proposing to allocate about 50 percent of the funding increase to particulates and ammonia emissions, wind erosion, agricultural burning, agriculture operations, processing industry, transport of emissions, nitrogens, and measurement and monitoring. Thirty percent, or $3 million, would go to ozone research, and 20 percent to odorous compounds. He added that the Administration’s 2003 budget proposal for ARS includes another $5 million increase tied to air quality and the broad area of waste management. If this increase is approved by Congress, it would be allocated to work on particulate emissions and odorous compounds.

Dr. Knipling suggested that the Task Force must be sure that all the groups at all stages of the budget process hear the same message.

Several Task Force members asserted that enough work has already been done on wind erosion, so that money should be spent on other more demanding issues. They encouraged Dr. Knipling and his staff to meet with Jim Trotter and the Task Force Research Priorities Subcommittee to go over the areas the Task Force has determined are the highest priorities for air quality research.  They strongly suggested that the research efforts be focused on finding ways to reduce VOC emissions, determining proper control mechanisms and strategies for PM10 in areas where it is a problem, and development of Best Management Practices (BMPs).

With respect to wind erosion, Dr. Knipling mentioned that each of the bulleted items on his list are really part of a spectrum, not discreet program components, and wind is certainly still one of the principal transport mechanisms for particulates. However, he did take note of the Task Force’s comments.

Stephanie Whalen stated, “We’re going to be getting Best Management Practices out of litigation or consensus decrees rather than by research because the research is just responding too slowly. . . . We need Best Management Practices as soon as possible, not just for major agriculture . . . but to keep the small farmers in operation.”

Dr. Knipling accepted Ms. Whalen’s constructive comments and responded that over the last ten years, ARS programs have focused on quality issues and not so much production and yield issues, but to the producers, yield is still very important. The agency has to address all of the issues and respond to all customers in some sort of balanced way.

Kevin Rogers stated that what is going to put his small farm out of business is not going to be wind erosion but the increasing regulation. As it is now, in order to till his soil, he has to fill out a form describing how he will do it and how he will reduce his PM10 emissions, but neither he nor his state agencies know how much he is emitting. Mr. Rogers stressed the urgent need for emission factors for tillage practices, cultivation practices, and planting practices, and he said the research agencies need to recognize and address that need. He also suggested that it would be more helpful for ARS to spend some of their money on evaluating the BMPs that states like Arizona have in place and determining if they are really doing any good.

Sally Shaver updated the committee on several current EPA issues. While Title V had been on the original agenda, Ms. Shaver felt it was not appropriate to discuss that issue because it is under litigation in California, and they were holding settlement discussions at the time.

With respect to CERCLA/EPCRA, Ms. Shaver reminded the group that when Lynn Beasley addressed the group about a year ago, Jim Trotter had some concerns about fertilizer application. Since that meeting, Ms. Beasley had looked into the issue and found that farmers are not required to report releases from the normal application of fertilizer.

On the issue of hydrogen sulfide being listed as a hazardous air pollutant (HAP) under the Clean Air Act, Ms. Shaver said EPA’s Office of Research and Development is still working on it and she had no preliminary indications of how the issue might be resolved.

Ms. Shaver reported that EPA does have some options for addressing the CERCLA issue. Since the quantities for reporting are based on numbers from the Clean Water Act, not from the Clean Air Act and the numbers are much lower than the emission limits of concern, EPA could approve an administrative reporting exemption, or they can adjust the reportable quantities based on air quality. Their offices are investigating these options further.

Calvin Parnell interjected that CERCLA/EPCRA requires producers to report any time they emit more than a certain number of pounds of a chemical, but the reporting limits are based on Clean Water Act requirements, not Clean Air Act requirements. There are a number of agricultural operations that are likely to exceed the 100-pound per day reporting limit for ammonia, for example, but they are not reporting. Dr. Parnell explained that those agricultural producers are not purposely failing to report these emissions; rather, they are not reporting because they do not know they are emitting 100 pounds, and they do not realize they fall under the Clean Water Act. Dr. Wakelyn indicated that the reportable quantity for NOx is 10 lbs/day and a 10 hp engine running about 12 hrs will reach that, which could affect agriculture. Ms. Shaver promised to take that message back to EPA.  Phil Wakelyn also informed the task force that EPA published revised final guidance clarifying permitted releases under CERCLA/EPCRA  on April 17 (67 FR 18899) and April 23 (67 FR 19750; Definition of “Grandfathered” Sources)  and passed out copies of the notices. Wakelyn was not sure how this applied to agriculture where there are few if any federal permits but thought if the clean air act levels were not exceeded agriculture would not have to report.

Ms. Shaver addressed the progress on the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for PM and ozone. On March 26, 2002, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals found PM2.5 and ozone standards to be neither arbitrary nor capricious, and they denied all the remaining challenges to the standards. Therefore, EPA now feels free to move forward with implementation of the standards. Over the next year, the agency plans to propose implementation rules for the eight-hour ozone standard, and to address the sub-part one, sub-part two issue concerning how to classify areas. They will determine which requirements are mandatory requirements and which can have more flexibility on an area-by-area basis. Dr. Wakelyn indicated that several issues still remain to be resolved on ozone before the standard can be implemented, including EPA has to reconsider its implementation plan for ozone.

For the PM2.5 standards, EPA will analyze the 1999-2001 air quality data and determine the attainment status of each county. Working closely with the states and the RPOs, EPA will draft guidance on determining the geographic scope of non-attainment areas for PM2.5, and begin modeling analyses to characterize regional transport. The states will be able to make recommendations to EPA regarding designations, and then EPA will propose final designations, probably in 2003.

Randy Waite (EPA) passed out a detailed schedule of anticipated deadlines. He said EPA would probably finalize the implementation rule for the eight-hour ozone NAAQS in FY 2003. They plan to propose the implementation rule for PM2.5 sometime in 2003, and then finalize it in 2004. Given this timeline, he suggested that the Task Force’s Implementation Subcommittee continue to work on the NAAQS issues that concern the full committee, and to pay special attention to the ozone issues as well as the PM2.5.

Ms. Shaver mentioned that EPA has called for NOx state implementation plans (SIPs) to try to address some of the ozone issues, and these SIPs will have beneficial effects for the eight-hour standard as well. In addition, the Administration has gone forward with its Clear Skies Initiative, which should result in both SO2 and NOx reductions, and which should help in non-attainment issues, particularly in the east.

With respect to the criteria pollutant standards, EPA is on a five-year review cycle, and currently both the PM2.5 standard and the PM10 standard are undergoing review. Around May 8, 2002, the Office of Research and Development will release a third draft of the criteria document for the Clean Air Science Advisory Committee  (CASAC) and public review at a meeting on July 18-19, 2002; a final criteria document should be out by the end of this calendar year. Ms. Shaver said the next draft staff paper for particulates should be released in early July for CASAC and public review, and the meeting for that staff paper has been scheduled for September 18-19, 2002. The final staff paper will probably be out sometime in 2003. For ozone, the criteria document preparation is planned from 2003-2004, and the earliest anticipated date for a decision would be late 2005.

Roger Isom asked what impact the 8-hour standard would have on existing non-attainment standards under the one-hour standard, and Ms. Shaver answered that they would have no effect.

Ms. Shaver then displayed various maps of non-attainment areas by county for the ozone and PM2.5 standards. The information on these standards has given EPA reason to consider them together and try to determine how best to proceed towards implementation, especially in the areas that have non-attainment for both standards.

The subcommittee reports began with the Follow-Up Subcommittee. Co-Chair Bob Avant distributed a table that he compiled from the meeting minutes of all of the outstanding action items from the July 2001 and January 2002 Task Force meetings. He went through the list and asked the person named for each action item to briefly report on the item’s status and say whether it still needs to be on the list or not.

Sally Shaver was asked to comment on Item 1, the EPA Regional Administration meeting with the State Departments of Agriculture. She said most of those meetings had already occurred, and the rest are scheduled; once they are complete, Ms. Shaver would give the Task Force a report.

Item 8 was a qualification statement in AP-42 to indicate that the data included there was intended for general guidance and not for regulatory compliance. Calvin Parnell stated that such a statement was included in the older, 1987 AP-42, but it was taken out of the new version; he clarified that the issue is whether that qualification statement should be added to the AP-42 web page and the new AP-42. Ms. Shaver said she would have to look into this topic.

Ms. Shaver’s name was also listed for Item 9, EPA staff working on agriculture. She said that EPA and USDA staff members have a higher level of communication on research policy issues and regulations than at any time in the past, though it can still improve. Mr. Avant added that there had been a request at the July 2001 meeting for a list of the key USDA and EPA people who are working on Ag air quality issues. Gary Margheim said he and Beth Sauerhaft would compile the list of USDA staff, and Ms. Shaver would share the names for EPA.

Phyllis Woodford also asked to know the names of those participating in the monthly USDA/EPA meetings with Jean-Mari Peltier and Mack Gray. Mr. Avant suggested that Dr. Sauerhaft include those names with the other list.

Emmett Barker spoke about Item 2, foundations funding research. He distributed a list of 25 to 30 foundations and the types of work they sponsor. Mr. Barker will continue to expand the list.

Item 3 on the action list was conferences and association meetings related to air quality. Calvin Parnell recalled that the intent of this action item was to generate a list of the various conferences and meetings going on throughout the country that Task Force members may want to attend. Mr. Avant asked Dr. Sauerhaft to compile this list as well and distribute it to the Task Force.

The next action item was the status of the NRCS list of 14 research needs with priority for air quality. Gary Margheim responded that each year NRCS submits to the research agencies its priority list of research needs as a user agency. Both Dick Amerman of ARS and Ray Knighton of CSREES say they use that information to help put together their plans for the year. Dr. Margheim stated that this year, NCRS’s number one research priority was air quality, or more specifically, “the role and effectiveness of conservation practices for particulate matter and odor control.” Mr. Avant requested that Dr. Margheim pass out his list of other priority areas the following morning.

Item 5, the status of air quality funding priorities in CSREES, had already been addressed by earlier presentations, and the Task Force was still waiting to hear about the status of the research title of the Farm Bill, which was Item 6.

Item 7 was the cross-cutting budget status for air quality research in the 2003 budget. Dr. Margheim explained that USDA had completed the 2003 budget process. Through the Office of Budget Planning and Analysis, ARS and CSREES participated in a cross-cutting process to avoid duplication of efforts and to ensure that the agencies are coordinating their work. Since this item had been completed, Dr. Margheim said it could be removed from the list.

Mr. Avant said there had been a question about the Carnegie Mellon University ammonia study and database. Randy Waite replied that some EPA emission factors staff were involved in reviewing the output of the study. The database is on the web.

The Ag Regulatory Status under the Clean Air Act was Item 10; Sally Shaver already addressed it in her presentation, so Mr. Avant removed it from the action list.

Item 11 was the definition of agriculture for regulatory processes; in some states, different agencies have different definitions for agriculture. Mr. Avant asked Ms. Shaver for her input, and she said that the EPA regions are working on being consistent with their definitions. With respect to CAFOs, she added that when the NAS report is complete, EPA will plan to define facilities, farms, major sources, and fugitive emissions, to name a few. Ms. Shaver suggested that the Implementation Subcommittee should also address the definition issue and prepare something for the Task Force’s review if the group wants to make a recommendation.

John Sweeten described the status of Item 12, EPA standards on issues for CAFOs. Dr. Sweeten said the intent is to increase research and development, education, and technology transfer relative to the standardization and enforcement efforts so as to bring those back into balance.

Item 13 was Air Quality as a priority in the Research Title of the Farm Bill, on which the committee was awaiting news, and Item 14 was Climate Change, which was on the agenda for the following day

Next, Kelley Green gave a brief report on the Research Priorities and Oversight Committee. Mr. Green reminded the Task Force that at the last meeting they had revised and approved a shortened list of research priorities. Since then, the subcommittee had made a minor change to Priority 3 based on comments from Bob Flocchini; Mr. Green read the change aloud. Gary Margheim requested new copies of the revised priority list for the following day.

Manuel Cunha suggested the priority list be brought to Deputy Secretary Moseley and Secretary Veneman so that they understand that the Task Force’s recommendations have not yet been addressed.

Mike Unsworth recalled that earlier that day, Deputy Secretary Moseley had requested both a list of research priorities and some details about the necessary resources and activities associated with those priorities. He wondered whether the Task Force planned to follow up the short list with an expanded version. Gary Margheim interjected that this short summary document was already supported by a longer, more thorough report. Mr. Green added that the intent of the shorter list was to focus clearly on the Task Force’s highest priorities, and to keep the document as simple and as pointed as possible. Dr. Margheim suggested that there is a need for both documents: those involved with budgeting want more details than the Secretary or Deputy Secretary.

Mr. Avant asked whether the longer detailed report is consistent with the revised summary document. Calvin Parnell responded that the detailed, 60-page report was created by the first AAQTF in 1996, and it may be time to revisit that document. He suggested holding a special brainstorming meeting for the long report to determine how best to modify it. Mr. Green added that there once were three research priority documents: a one-pager, a three-pager, and a 60-pager. Now there is one single updated two-pager, which is what will be distributed. Mr. Green recalled that at the January 2002 meeting, the Task Force had decided to clearly communicate the two-pager and then work on the details. He agreed that the long document needs to be revised before it is re-released.

Stephanie Whalen also supported revisiting the long document. She believed that since the Deputy Secretary has committed to doing work in air quality and has said he heard the group’s message loud and clear, the Task Force should present the information to him in a spirit of collaboration. Mr. Cunha added that there was widespread frustration over USDA’s inertia on air quality research.

For the report from the Agricultural Burning Subcommittee, Stephanie Whalen handed out copies of the memo that was sent to the Fire Emissions Joint Forum of WRAP concerning burning.  Calvin Parnell complimented both Ms. Whalen and Phyllis Woodford on their “yeoman effort” regarding the memo.

As Title V was discussed earlier by Sally Shaver, this subcommittee waved their time for a presentation. 

John Sweeten said that the CAFO Subcommittee would be presenting the full Task Force with a draft report the next day, so he would save the discussion for that time. He did mention, however, that since the January meeting, the subcommittee had been closely following the progress of the NAS panel on the CAFO rules and effluent limitation guidelines.

To end the day’s session, Beth Sauerhaft began the public comment period. The only speaker was Dick Amerman of the Agricultural Research Service. He apologized for the confusion caused earlier over the meaning of the words “wind erosion.” He stated that several years ago, the three stations in ARS’s Wind Erosion Program shifted substantially into PM10 research. The group at Pullman, Washington, shifted its research entirely to PM10, the work at Lubbock, Texas, is almost entirely PM10, and the work in Manhattan, Kansas, is concerned with developing a conservation planning tool that has a PM10 element in it. This tool, which will be used by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), will evaluate alternative methods of controlling wind erosion plus PM10. He explained that ARS does know many things about the practices that need to be put on the landscape to control the emission of dust from wind. He also stated that for PM2.5, ARS has shifted heavily into the ammonia area because it is a precursor to the fine particulates.

Tom Coleman asked about ARS’s timetable for releasing its new information on practices and technologies and getting it out where it can be used. Dr. Amerman replied that much of it is already out, but the issue is bringing it together. He said that NRCS and ARS have discussed many times how they might take information out of the published literature and put it into a form that goes into recommendations to the field.

Roger Isom recommended that at the next Task Force meeting, a significant amount of time be set aside for ARS to present some of their ongoing research, especially on ammonia and PM10.

Bob Flocchini requested copies of the 2001 final reports on wind erosion from the research stations in Washington, Texas, and Kansas.  Dick Amerman would get these to Dr. Sauerhaft for distribution to the Task Force.

Calvin Parnell briefly expressed some concerns about ARS using terminology like “dust” instead of “PM10” or “PM2.5,” and “contaminants” instead of “hazardous air pollutants” or “toxics.” Dr. Parnell stressed that USDA should be using the same terminology as EPA and the scientific community.

Stephanie Whalen observed that based on Dr. Amerman’s comments about ARS having many solutions to PM issues, the problem seems to be that the system is failing to deliver the solutions to the people who need them.

Phil Wakelyn asked about what constitutes PM10 research at the Pullman and Lubbock laboratories. Dr. Amerman said they work with wind erosion as an emitter of PM10, as suspension, into the atmosphere. They are also looking at emission data and factors that they will ultimately be able to enter into the conservation planning tool. Dr. Wakelyn inquired whether they were looking at tillage, cultivation, and planting and what is emitted with different types of equipment under different conditions. Dr. Amerman answered that the research stations are not working on those things at the present time, but they would be added to the program with the new funding. Finally, Dr. Wakelyn requested copies of the ARS reports that deal with agriculture air quality.

Dr. Sweeten requested a transcript of Ed Knipling’s presentation. He commented that ARS is in an excellent position to address ammonia emissions with its large group of experts. He added that as progress is made on ammonia, they should not lose sight of effluent limitation guidelines. Dr. Sweeten noted too that only a casual effort had been made in the past to relate the trade-offs between water and air quality considerations vis-à-vis nutrient balances. He asked Dr. Amerman if ARS would be focusing on these important areas. Dr. Amerman stated that ARS is definitely working on both of these areas. They held a meeting in the spring with representatives from 16 units across the country who are working on ammonia emissions. With respect to the integration of air and water, the National Program Staff and other scientists are discussing these issues from a watershed perspective, since they do not yet know how to define an air shed.

Gary Margheim adjourned the meeting until the following day.

 

USDA Agricultural Air Quality Task Force

Meeting Minutes

May 2, 2002

Hall of States, Room 333

444 North Capitol Street

Washington, D.C. 20001

1

 

Members present:

Viney Aneja                                                     Wayne Robarge

Bob Avant                                                        Kevin Rogers

Emmett Barker                                                 Annette Sharp

Mark Boese                                                     Sally Shaver

Tom Coleman                                                   John Sweeten

Manuel Cunha                                                  Michael Unsworth

Bob Flocchini                                                   Phil Wakelyn

Kelley Green                                                    Stephanie Whalen

Roger Isom                                                      Phyllis Woodford

Calvin Parnell                                                  

Gary Margheim, Acting Chair

     

Other NRCS Support Staff:

Beth Sauerhaft (Designated Federal Official)

John Beyer                                                       Liz Rogers

John Brenner                                                    Ray Sinclair

            Jeff Schmidt                                          Roel Vining

            Elvis Graves

 

Other EPA Support Staff:

Randy Waite                                                    Charlene Spells

Penny Lassiter                                                  Linda Metcalf

Jim Sykeman

 

Other Federal Personnel:

Dick Amerman, ARS, NHQ

Ray Knighton, CSREES, NHQ

Bill Hohenstein, USDA, OCE

 

Public Citizens:

Gary Baise, Baise & Miller Associates

Michelle Merkel, Environmental Integrity Project

Martha Noble, Sustainable Air Culture Coalition

Bryan Shaw, Texas A&M University

 

      The minutes from the Meeting in Phoenix were approved. 

John Sweeten and Mike Unsworth, Co-Chairs of the Subcommittee on Air Quality for Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), presented an overview of recent developments. This included: service of three Subcommittee members on the National Academy of Sciences Ad-Hoc Committee on Air Emissions from Animal Feeding Operations that has lead to an interim report (Flocchini, Robarge, Parnell); numerous conference proceedings that involved Subcommittee members as authors; production of white papers on odor, particulate and ammonia for the 14-state National Center for Manure and Animal Waste Management, with public access electronically via the Midwest Plan Service (Sweeten, Parnell, Robarge); Chairmanship of the recent USDA-ARS external review committee for an agricultural air quality national research program (Coleman); new significant grants from USDA-CSREES that will help fulfill elements of the AAQTF’s recommended research priorities, including the IFAFS (Initiative for Future Agricultural & Food Systems) and state-specific research grants (Texas, California, etc.).  Then, Sweeten presented major findings of the new report “Iowa Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations Air Quality Study”, Final Report, February 2002.  This report is receiving a lot of attention nationally in that it recommended new odor and odorant–based regulatory approaches.   Literature was distributed regarding this and other specific CAFO-related air quality studies or conferences. Finally, future areas of potential CAFO-subcommittee inquiry were identified, including possible development of future white paper topics such as ammonia loss and prevention, PM-fine from CAFOs, and health or toxicity issues.

      Annette Sharp gave the Emission Factors Subcommittee report.  A summary of survey results from 43 states was presented.  Conclusions from participants indicate that top emission factor development priorities are PM10 and PM2.5 for livestock, agricultural burning, and cropland activity.  Wayne Robarge explained the plans of the Subcommittee for Phase II.  North Carolina State University, again, will host a web site for a one-stop listing of agricultural research that is pertinent to agricultural emission factor development

      Discussion followed regarding the date and location of the next meeting. Acting Chair Gary Margheim announced that the next session would be held in Iowa sometime before August 6, 2002, the date the current Task Force charter expires, and that Beth would work with Emmett Barker to schedule it.

      Next on the agenda was the discussion of emission reduction credits (ERCs) for agricultural operations. Roger Isom reminded the group that the Task Force adopted the policy and background document on emission reduction credits as part of the voluntary incentive-based compliance plan at the last meeting in Phoenix. Since then the Implementation Subcommittee held several conference calls and meetings on the issue, and prepared a more formal proposal for presentation to EPA for a pilot program for ERCs for agricultural operations. They are drawing from existing ERC programs in California that have been successful in encouraging stationary sources to update controls through a voluntary program and a way to recover some of their cost. The existing programs have also allowed ARS to spend more money on additional research on finding new controls, because people want to find controls in order to generate further reductions. Mr. Isom then summarized some of the emission reduction successes of the different ERC programs. For example, in Imperial County they have an emission reduction credit for eliminating burning. It’s regulated by their Rule 214, which is their standard ERC’s. I’m going to use the term ERC, that’s the acronym for emission reduction credits. And what they’ve been able to gain by that is a reduction of 50% in agricultural burning in a little over six years. So it’s been a very successful program down there.

            In the Feather River Air Quality Management District they allow emission reduction credits for reductions in rye straw burning beyond what they have already mandated. They’ve mandated that burning be reduced to 25% of the level five years ago.  Credits are given only if the producer goes beyond established baseline levels.

            In the San Joaquin Valley, ERC’s are obtained from converting from a diesel-fired internal combustion engine to an electric motor to drive irrigation pumps. And where you get the reductions in air quality there, the air district takes 10% right off the top. And when those credits are used, there is a distance offset ratio where an additional 20-50% of emission reductions is provided.

      Based on the results they have studied, the Implementation Subcommittee feels there is a need for a standardized nationwide agricultural ERC program. Mr. Isom said the biggest concern for EPA and the air districts has to do with new source review criteria, or how ERCs are determined acceptable. The five main criteria an ERC would have to meet are that it be real, permanent, quantifiable, enforceable, and surplus. To fit with the voluntary incentive-based compliance program, the ERCs would also need to be voluntary and not require a permit to operate.

      The Implementation Subcommittee then proposed that the Task Force recommend that EPA consider creating a one-year pilot program for ERCs for agricultural operations, and that they limit the program to irrigation pump engines and agricultural burning, sources for which there are already adequate emissions data. The Implementation Subcommittee has drafted a conceptual outline for the program, but they would ask EPA to help develop a more specific protocol for how to handle these types of sources.

      Manuel Cunha expressed his support for the pilot program. Emmett Barker agreed that the program is an excellent idea, and he encouraged the subcommittee to consider offering credits for the use of new clean-burning diesel engines and low-sulfur fuels, which he said would provide more fuel flexibility nationwide than the use of electricity.

      Kelley Green remarked that if the pilot program starts with just a few industries, and a dollar figure is put on those emission reductions, it could give a great deal of incentive to the other industries that do not have such good emission factors to start trying to help the efforts to develop those good emission factors.

      Annette Sharp reminded the committee that the Regional Haze Rule specifically instructs states to look at ERCs as a possible way to provide offsets or some other mechanism to establishing controls on what they identify as the 26 BART sources. Therefore, the proposed pilot program is in keeping with existing EPA programs, and it will assist states as they have to examine ERCs.

      Michael Unsworth thought the ERC proposal was a great way of expanding the voluntary incentive programs, and he believed the idea of focusing on engines was a strong one because those emissions are so well determined. He asked about agricultural burning and how well those emissions are qualified. Stephanie Whalen replied that it is very difficult to get particulate matter emission factors for agricultural burning, but two specific studies have been done by Dr. Darley of UC Riverside and by Dr. Brian Jenkins of UC Davis that arrived at roughly the same emission factors.

      Dr. Unsworth then asked if in practice the pilot program would be monitored by identifying the area burned, the residue being burned, and an emission factor, and then the credit would be calculated. Both Stephanie Whalen and Roger Isom answered yes, and Mr. Isom added that Dr. Jenkins’s work is very crop-specific, so whatever protocol EPA develops would limit that to those specific crops.

      Phyllis Woodford stated that the timing is excellent for a program like this because if the program works, it will provide an idea of how to make real, quantifiable, certifiable types of reductions. She said she is already encouraged by the agricultural burning reductions that have occurred in a proactive manner in advance of regulation, and she believes that if an ERC program can promote those voluntary-type reductions, it is worth developing in cooperation with EPA.

      Viney Aneja asked why such diverse sources as irrigation pumps and agricultural burning are being considered for emission reduction credits, especially when ag. burning is not nearly as well-quantifiable in terms of emission factors. Sally Shaver responded that those were areas that were brought to EPA by the agricultural community because of California’s situation and the need for emission reductions there. She admitted that there may be some aspects to these pilots that are not good, or they may all be good; for the pumps, it may work very well, but they may decide they never want to do it again for agricultural burning. This is why EPA is interested in trying some of these new ideas for a short period of time, and then evaluating the outcomes. Mr. Isom added that these are areas for which air districts are already issuing credits, but all in different ways. The pilot program will attempt to determine a uniform way of administering such programs.

      Bob Flocchini declared that he is quite comfortable supporting a pilot program with respect to the engines because they have well-documented emission factors, but he questioned the idea for agricultural burning. Based on his experience measuring rye straw burning, he said it is “nearly impossible” to measure burning with emission factors because the controlling factor for emissions from burning is meteorology.

      Mark Boese explained the importance of ERC programs to California, and he remarked that the enforcement part will be the most complicated issue.

      With respect to Ag burning, Stephanie Whalen stated that there will always be uncertainty in trying to get exact emission factors for burning; no one will ever get exact quantitative results that apply to every fire. However, if there is not a move into some kind of incentive program, agricultural burning emissions will either be legislated on poor data or based on speculation, and those industries without economically viable alternatives will just go out of business. For the last three decades, the rice industry has been looking for economical alternatives to burning, and so far some of the best Ag universities in the US have not been able to find any. The rice industry is still moving towards legislated reduction, but if there is an incentive based on the best science to date to move beyond the mandated reduction, then Ms. Whalen thinks it is well worth doing.

      Manuel Cunha made a motion to accept the Implementation Subcommittee’s presentation and to recommend to the Secretary of Agriculture that a one-year pilot program for emissions reduction credits be implemented for agricultural internal combustion engines and agricultural burning. The motion was seconded.

      Kelley Green reiterated that it is critical that the Task Force continue to move forward with projects like this on a much expedited basis. The ERC pilot program is a perfect opportunity to “put some economic power behind the science,” and projects like this can really drive the development of the new emissions factors.

      Phyllis Woodford suggested that Michael Unsworth’s recommendation to consider meteorology in the ag. burning program be included. Stephanie Whalen declared, however, that meteorology is not a factor in a program that provides credits to eliminate burning. Meteorology is an important factor in determining burn/no-burn days which postpones burning; it does not eliminate it.

      Kevin Rogers called for the question; the motion passed.

      After a break, Bill Hohenstein, Director of USDA’s Global Change Program Office, gave a presentation on the Global Climate Change Initiative. He offered a broad overview of climate change and agriculture, USDA’s Global Change Program, and the Administration’s initiatives on climate change.

      Mr. Hohenstein explained that the Administration’s plan links emissions to economic activity, therefore allowing some flexibility to account for the uncertainties in economic growth. Given economic projections, it is anticipated that the goal will be to reduce carbon by 100,000,000 tons from 2000 levels. To help achieve this, the President is establishing a system of transferable credits, and the Department of Energy (DOE) will take the lead in developing this system. DOE maintains an existing voluntary reporting system under Section 1605B of the Energy Policy Act; they are now in the process of improving the quality of that reporting system, and they have been directed to consult with USDA. Mr. Hohenstein said that the new voluntary system will be reviewed in 2012 to see how responsible industry is and how well they manage the potential risks of future regulation.

      In addition, the President directed the Secretary of Energy to identify some targeted incentives that could be implemented by USDA, and to develop rules and guidelines for how forestry and agricultural practices could be included in the Section 1605B program.

      Mr. Hohenstein stated that the final component of the Administration plan is to improve both the science and technology, and invest in the types of technologies that are going to reduce emissions in the long-term. He went over some of the changes the President is recommending to the current interagency mechanism that coordinates the work of the 14 agencies that are part of the U.S. Global Change Research Program. The Department of Commerce will take the lead in coordinating the science program, and the Department of Energy will be in charge of coordinating the technology program.

      For their FY 2003 budget, the Global Change Research Program is proposing a 20% increase in their global change research, primarily targeted at technology development and practice development that can sequester carbon and offset emissions in the Ag and forestry sectors to improve the measurement and understanding of the emission sources and sinks, and to improve high-priority basic science. According to Mr. Hohenstein, USDA will be a key player in the global change research. On February 14, 2002, the President directed the Secretary of Agriculture to provide recommendations on targeted incentives and on additional steps and incentives that could be taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase carbon sequestration. In addition, USDA has been given the lead in developing the technical methods that will be used for reporting carbon offset projects under the 1605B program, and potentially other future programs as well. USDA is working on developing guidelines that farmers can use to estimate the benefits of projects such as increasing the use of conservation tillage or converting marginal lands to trees.

      Roger Isom asked how Mr. Hohenstein’s office was engaging the agricultural community in feedback and in outreach. Mr. Hohenstein said the program plans to recreate and revitalize the Climate Change Ag Dialog, a group of representatives from all the major farm organizations that was originally formed in preparation for the last negotiating session at The Hague in December of 2000. Dr. Wakelyn said he was part of the “Climate Change Ag Dialog” and in the meeting summary report of those meetings it was stated that it was generally felt by the group that C-sequestration should be framed as a good conservation measure for soil quality and nutrient management but that C-sequestration is a separate issue from the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) issue.  The Ag dialog group also noted that soil C-sequestration is influenced by a number of factors and one of the challenges will be to determine what the best policy for agriculture is and is there really anything in it for production agriculture.

      Manuel Cunha stressed that the Global Change Program needs to seriously consider the economic impacts of these carbon sequestration practices on U.S. farmers. He also suggested that the program work closely with the Task Force as well as national agriculture groups and grass roots organizations on the agriculture issues.

      Stephanie Whalen commented that this program offers an opportunity not only for some policy decision but also to look at food security and to help maintain U.S. farmers as viable producers by granting them payments or other incentives for providing environmental benefits to the entire community.

      Emmett Barker asked Mr. Hohenstein if he could provide the Task Force with a chart that shows the usage of fossil fuels per unit of food and fiber produced in the U.S., and Mr. Hohenstein said he would try, but their data for some fuel types were limited.

      Next, Beth Sauerhaft opened up the public comment period, and John Brenner introduced Martha Noble from the Sustainable Air Culture Coalition. Ms. Noble talked about the Iowa Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation Air Quality Study done by the University of Iowa and Iowa State, and about research on antibiotic emissions and emissions of antibiotic resistant bacteria from confined hog houses being conducted by Dr. James Zahn with the Agricultural Research Service in Iowa. Ms. Noble strongly suggested that the Task Force look into these studies and these issues, which she said are important to the public.

      Dr. Sweeten responded that during the CAFO Subcommittee report, he had indeed given a very brief synopsis of the executive summary of the Iowa study. He also said that the Task Force would consider inviting Dr. Zahn to the next meeting in the Midwest.

      The second speaker, Michelle Merkel from the Environmental Integrity Project, merely thanked Beth Sauerhaft and Gary Margheim for sharing with her the materials that were distributed to the Task Force.

      After lunch, Calvin Parnell led a discussion of modeled concentrations versus measured concentrations. He also explained the problems that can arise for farmers if ambient samplers are placed too close to agricultural operations, especially since they tend to over sample under such conditions.

      Phil Wakelyn reiterated that the Task Force is not saying that agriculture should be exempt from measurement or regulation; rather, the committee is advocating that any requirements placed on agricultural operations be based on good science and implemented fairly and measured correctly.

      Bob Flocchini suggested that a question concerning the siting criteria for ambient air samplers be added to the list of questions for David Mobley He also mentioned that the IMPROVE data set for PM2.5 will soon be coming out of U.C. Davis and will be posted on the IMPROVE website.

      Dr. Wakelyn said another question to add to this list would be, what are the confidence limits, that EPA puts on their samplers when they are making measurements and that they use to determine whether an area is in non-attainment. Dr. Flocchini responded that the IMPROVE data set lists the error in each of the individual concentration identifications.

      Bob Avant asked if EPA has issued guidance on the appropriate protocol for the placement of samplers for particulate matter exceeding a mass medium diameter of ten microns, and he suggested the question be added to the list. Dr. Wakelyn said he would be sending all of the questions to David Mobley by e-mail, for Mr. Mobley had promised to answer them.

      Wayne Robarge offered another question for the list: is the 15 micrograms per cubic meter on an average basis over a year a tolerance limit or a measurement value?

      Dr. Wakelyn then invited Calvin Parnell to talk about dispersion modeling. Dr. Parnell explained that there are two different applications of dispersion modeling: air shed modeling, which looks at long-range impacts of pollutants, and the modeling used for permitting purposes, which uses an emission rate to predict a concentration at some point downwind. The primary application/use of this latter type of modeling is the Industrial Source Complex (ISC), which is the EPA-approved model that is used in most states. However, the ISC model predicts downwind concentration several times higher than the measured concentration for most agricultural operations, including cotton gins, feed mills, and all of the ground-level area sources like cattle feed yards, dairies, farming operations, and field operations. For example, the ISC model overestimates downwind PM10 concentrations for a cotton gin to be 150 milligrams per cubic meter when samplers measure only 50--one third of the model prediction.

      Dr. Parnell explained that there are other, better models, such as AERMOD and ADMS, and David Mobley has said that EPA is considering switching from ISC to AERMOD. Dr. Parnell stressed again that the Task Force wants agriculture to be appropriately regulated, so if the states want to use modeling for permitting purposes, then the model must accurately predict concentration, not give an estimate that is several times the measured concentration.

      Michael Unsworth shared that he has been talking with David Caruthers, who led the development of the European ADMS model, and Dr. Caruthers has indicated that there are a number of data sets available and some significant differences between the various models. Dr. Unsworth added that Gaussian models do not work particularly well for sources that are especially close to the ground, but some of the more sophisticated models, such as AERMOD and ADMS, handle low-level sources better than others. He strongly suggested that somebody conduct inter-comparisons of these models for some specified agricultural situations; “until we’ve done that, I don’t think we really can quantify some of the arguments that we’re putting forward.”

      Wayne Robarge commented that accurate models are needed in order to begin to make a realistic appraisal of health issues. He then asked if a range of models is needed to be able to handle the dispersion of various gases and PM, or can one particular model be adapted to predict exposure a set distance from the boundary line. Dr. Parnell responded that he did not believe it will ever be acceptable to use a range of models. The issue is that now some states and EPA are considering replacing the standard model, which is ISC, with AERMOD, so we are looking at AERMOD to determine whether it will help or hurt agricultural operations.

      Stephanie Whalen asked if there were a mechanism by which to present, in a form acceptable to EPA, a study that would compare these models and then recommend an official alternative model for low-level sources. She also wondered whether it would be appropriate for EPA to put out a RFP to do that comparison with some of their new research funds. Sally Shaver said they could look into these suggestions.

      Ms. Shaver then asked Calvin Parnell if other models already existed, or if they are into model development; Dr. Parnell invited Bryan Shaw from Texas A&M University to respond. Dr. Shaw said that Texas A&M is not developing a new model from scratch, but is instead looking at the existing model and trying to make some adjustments to make it more appropriately applicable. He explained some of the differences in the way dispersion parameters account for variations in wind speed, wind direction, and atmospheric conditions, for example.

      Viney Aneja remarked that modeling dispersion diffusion for a source near the surface is very difficult to test. He concurred with Dr. Unsworth that before the group jumps to too many conclusions about how a model is being used for regulatory purposes, it would be prudent to do a modeling experiment to see how two models compare to each other. Dr. Parnell replied that his team at Texas A&M has been involved in modeling for more than ten years and they have run various modeling experiments. Their research has convinced them that the current model used by ISC is overestimating the emissions downwind.

      Tom Coleman asked if the ISC model had been validated against actual measurements, especially since it is being used for permitting. Dr. Parnell explained briefly how the model was developed and that the only validation they did was to assume that the dispersion parameters developed by Pascal Gifford were correct. He added that this model does not pose a problem for croplands, but it is a great concern for small point sources like cotton gins and dairies.

      After a short break, Gary Margheim reported that at that moment, the Farm Bill was still on the House floor pending a vote, and the Senate vote was scheduled for the next Tuesday. He passed out copies of the language of the House and Senate provisions of the Research Title and Conservation Title of the bill. He also asked Dr. Parnell if he could prepare a one-page summary of the models he had discussed, since several people had requested such a synopsis.

      Next, Sally Shaver briefly explained the President’s Clear Skies Initiative and presented maps showing the predicted effect of the initiative on ozone and PM2.5 non-attainment areas. Ms. Shaver stated that the Clear Skies Initiative is the most aggressive action that has ever been proposed by a president to reduce emissions from power plants. It provides for mandatory emission caps, separate trading programs in the east and the west, and improved environmental performance, all at a lower cost than would occur through the standard implementation of the Clean Air Act.

      Calvin Parnell complimented EPA and the Administration on the initiative; Bob Flocchini encouraged everybody to take a look at the Clear Skies website in detail, for it is very impressive.

      Gary Margheim quickly reminded the Task Force that they would soon need to prepare their report, summarizing the committee’s accomplishments over the past two years; this report will be submitted to the Secretary of Agriculture as she considers reauthorizing the Task Force charter for another two years. Dr. Margheim directed each of the subcommittees to provide Beth Sauerhaft with a one-paragraph summary of the subcommittee’s most significant accomplishment over the past two years. Dr. Sauerhaft will compile the paragraphs and create a draft report for the Task Force to review at the next meeting and then provide it to the Secretary as we move forward with our next charter.

      Next, Dr. Margheim introduced Gary Baise from Baise and Miller Associates, to talk about regulatory choices at the state level. Mr. Baise presented a history of the work on air pollution problems in the U.S. and a summary of current PM emissions across the country.

      Mr. Baise touched on a number of court cases that will inevitably impact U.S. agriculture, including EPA’s current CAFO settlement agreement with Premium Standard Farms; a spray drift case in Puerto Rico, which indicates that the farmers violated FIFRA and Resource Conservation Recovery Act (RCRA) when spraying pesticides; and the case Save our Summers  versus the Washington State Department of Ecology concerning the burning of wheat stubble and grass residue. Mr. Baise asserted, “My point here is the courts are going to drive the decision-making in the area impacting agriculture. And the research you are trying to do today should have been done ten years ago. The train has left the station, and the research that is in place now is what will be put before the courts and the courts will make a decision.”

      With respect to agricultural burning, Mr. Baise informed the group that the RCRA includes a provision that says agricultural waste can be considered a solid waste. Residue from crops and timber can be considered discarded material, and therefore, it is a solid waste.  Mr. Baise ended his presentation by stating, “Agriculture does not have a lot of data that defense lawyers like me can use in a courtroom. . . . USDA, bless your heart, you are a great institution, but you’re behind. I know you are looking at priorities, but these are some of the things we’re going to be fighting in the courts immediately.”

      Since no one wished to make public comments, Beth Sauerhaft officially adjourned the meeting.