090130 Pork Producers Sue EPA Over New Emissions Rule

January 25, 2009

Des Moines, Iowa (AP) -- The National Pork Producers Council said it is suing to challenge the Environmental Protection Agency's requirement that livestock farms inform communities about estimated emissions.

The rule is scheduled to take effect Tuesday. It requires livestock producers to call state and local emergency response authorities to inform them of estimated emissions and to notify them in writing.

Farms that fail to comply face penalties of up to $25,000 per day.

The council, based in Urbandale, Iowa, says in the lawsuit that livestock operations should be exempt and that the EPA delayed information on the rule and didn't develop a proper system for the operations to comply. It asks a court to prevent enforcement of the rule until the EPA develops a proper compliance system.

The council said its lawsuit was filed after-hours in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. A copy of the lawsuit wasn't immediately available.

A telephone message at the EPA wasn't immediately returned Monday, a federal holiday.

George Pettus, who oversees environmental compliance at some hog- producing facilities in North Carolina and Indiana, said he started trying to comply with the new law last week, but found incorrect contacts for state officials and misinformation on the EPA's Web site.

"There was no way to fulfill the obligation that we were under," he said during a telephone interview from Goldsboro, N.C., on Monday afternoon. He added that EPA officials who could help were out of the office for the weekend and the holiday.

"It was extremely frustrating," he said.