Held Up By GHG Concerns, Minnesota Dairy Now Ok’d to Expand
Daley Farms of Lewiston, Minn., will now be allowed to proceed on its expansion plans after the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) ruled this week it does not have to submit an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
The farm, which wants to more than double in size with the addition of 3,000 dairy cows, has been in the permitting process since 2017. After being issued an OK to proceed last fall by MPCA, the Minnesota Court of Appeals required MPCA to review the project proposal once again, saying the agency had not considered GHG emissions.
MPCA received an additional 550 comments on its Supplemental Environmental Assessment Worksheet that looked at GHG emissions if the expansion were to take place. MPCA estimates the expanded dairy would emit 34,400 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO₂ₑ) annually, though that would be reduced by 1,000 tons of CO₂ₑ if alfalfa were planted on fields currently planted to row crops.
MPCA noted that there are no Minnesota or national air quality standards for GHGs, and it looked to existing Minnesota statutes for guidance. Minn. R. 4410.4300 establishes a mandatory category for requiring an Environmental Assessment Worksheet for facilities that generate 100,000 tons per year of GHGs. “A reasonable conclusion is that the [Daley Farms] Project GHG emissions at well below 100,000 tons per year are not considered significant,” notes MPCA in its Supplemental Findings of Fact.
As a result, the agency concluded that a more involved EIS is not required and that the project can proceed. According to a Minneapolis Star Tribune article, the farm plans to proceed with the project once the current COVID pandemic ends.
You can read the entire MPCA Supplemental Findings of Fact here.