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Release Date: 7/23/2002
Contact Information: Lisa Fasano, U.S. EPA, (415) 947-4307

     Rule would partially withdraw a portion California's air permitting program for agricultural sources

     SAN FRANCISCO - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it is proposing a rule that would withdraw a portion of California's title V air permitting program from state control and turn responsibility over to the federal government.

     Today's proposal will be published in the federal register tomorrow and is subject to a public comment period which closes on Sept. 3.  The EPA is working closely with the USDA, the farming community and the local air districts to develop a program that identifies workable solutions and reasonable approaches to agricultural air emissions.

     The EPA approved California's title V program last December, which covers all major air pollution sources throughout the state, and set a 3-year timeline to study agricultural air pollution.  The agency's approval was challenged by 3 environmental coalitions because California state law exempts major agricultural operations from title V permit requirements, which is inconsistent with the Clean Air Act.  A May settlement agreement between the EPA and the 3 groups required the agency to propose a rule giving the EPA responsibility for ensuring that large agricultural operations in California that emit major amounts of air pollution obtain operating permits as required under the Clean Air Act.  Today's proposed rule allows the state to continue its existing permitting program for other stationary air pollution sources.

     "California state law needs to comply with the Clean Air Act," said Jack Broadbent, the EPA's air division director for the Pacific Southwest region.  "As soon as California removes the agricultural exemption from state law, the EPA will return the permitting authority to the state."

     The EPA anticipates that the vast majority of stationary agricultural sources will not require permitting and expects that the program will not impose any substantive new restrictions on agricultural operations.  Sources that may require permits include facilities with large stationary diesel engines and large animal feeding operations.  Applicability of the permit program depends on where sources are located and the air quality rating of that area.  Plowing or harvesting field activities will not trigger permitting requirements under the title V program.

     If California does not remove the exemption, the entire state could be subject to stricter emission reduction ratios in high pollution areas and possible highway funding freeze.

Information about today's rule will be available at:

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