ST. PAUL, Minn.—State agencies must strengthen how they address greenhouse gas pollution in environmental studies, say comments filed today with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) on the Daley Farms expansion environmental assessment. The study of the proposal was required by the Minnesota Court of Appeals, which struck down an earlier environmental study that failed to consider greenhouse gas pollution at all. The expansion would nearly triple the size of a large dairy operation in Winona County that currently houses 1,600 cattle.
The Daley Farms expansion environmental assessment is the first since a Minnesota Court of Appeals decision required analysis of greenhouse gas pollution in all environmental reviews. Minnesota is not currently meeting its greenhouse gas reduction goals, and reductions across all sectors of our economy, including agriculture, are needed. Yet, the Daley Farms expansion environmental assessment does not accurately describe the proposal’s climate impact or adequately describe ways to mitigate that pollution.
The MPCA study estimated that the expansion would add the equivalent of 32,500 tons of carbon dioxide pollution every year. But this covers less than half of the actual greenhouse gas emissions from the proposal and understates the potency of methane as a climate pollutant. The yearly climate impact could be as high as 22,500 additional cars on Minnesota roads, according to the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy (MCEA).
“Minnesota can’t shirk our responsibility to take action on the climate crisis,” stated Amelia Vohs, staff attorney at the MCEA. “The Minnesota Court of Appeals required state agencies to take a hard look at the climate impacts of every proposal they study. To reduce greenhouse gas pollution fast enough to make a difference, we need to accurately estimate climate pollution and study ways to mitigate it on every project.”
The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) submitted their own comments on the study. “The rise in dairy CAFOs is harming Minnesota’s farm economy by pushing small and mid-sized farms out while also contributing significant greenhouse gas emissions,” says Tara Ritter, senior program associate for climate change and rural communities at IATP. “It’s critical for MPCA to thoroughly assess agricultural greenhouse gases in a way that fully captures the emissions from CAFOs and also points toward lower-emitting farming systems that could support more farmers staying on the land.”
In addition to the extensive comments submitted by MCEA and IATP, around 150 Minnesotans also sent in shorter comments asking for a stronger study that includes ways to offset all of the greenhouse gas pollution from the Daley Farms proposal.
According to Minnesota rules, the MPCA has 15 days to respond to public comments but may request an extension. A copy of the comments submitted today is available upon request.
Download a PDF of the release here.
Read IATP's comments here.