The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (“WDNR”) recently announced its intent to develop best management practices (“BMPs”) that will allow agricultural facilities to demonstrate compliance with state hazardous air pollutant emission standards. Wis. Admin. ch. NR 445 provides hazardous air pollutant emission standards that are applicable to all facilities subject to the rule. For most subject facilities, compliance with NR 445 standards is achieved through installation of emission control equipment; however, for agricultural facilities, NR 445 allows compliance to be achieved by implementing BMPs to reduce potential hazardous pollutant emissions.
NR 445 was revised in 2004 to include an exemption for agricultural facilities until 2007; that exemption was extended last year and is now set to expire in 2011. WDNR implemented that exemption because, following the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (“EPA”) lead, the Department acknowledged a lack of scientific data on air emissions from farms. Since 2005, EPA has been conducting on-farm emissions studies with the hope of generating emission estimation methodologies for farms; similar smaller scale studies have also been conducted in Wisconsin. By providing an exemption through 2011, WDNR hoped to utilize the data from these studies to implement practical and effective BMPs for agricultural facilities. The February Scope Statement is WDNR’s first step in developing those BMPs via rulemaking; it remains to be seen whether the data from the EPA emission studies will be available to assist WDNR in this effort.