MPCA estimates greenhouse gas emissions for Winona Co. dairy farm expansion

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Ben Daley, an owner and operator at Daley Farms near Lewiston, Minn.
Ben Daley, an owner and operator at Daley Farms near Lewiston, Minn. After Minnesota’s appeals court revoked a controversial permit for the proposed expansion of the dairy farm, the MPCA released a draft permit and an additional environmental review that shows the project’s potential impacts to the climate.
Andrew Link via The Post Bulletin

After Minnesota’s appeals court revoked a controversial permit for a proposed dairy farm expansion in Winona County, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency released a draft permit and an additional environmental review that shows the project’s potential impacts to the climate.

The MPCA on Wednesday estimated greenhouse gas emissions if Daley Farms near Lewiston, Minn., increased its current herd size from 1,728 cows and calves to 4,628.

Last October, the state Court of Appeals said that the MPCA failed to consider greenhouse gas emissions in its environmental review.

Although the pollution control agency has noted greenhouse gas emissions in environmental reviews in other sectors like ethanol and energy, Katrina Kessler, assistant MPCA commissioner, said the Daley Farms case sets a precedence in reviews for future feedlot projects.

“This change doesn’t come with any new regulatory requirements,” Kessler said. “It merely adds information to the broader conversation we’re having at the state level and at the local level about how we can understand the climate change impact broadly, and then to communities and how we can work together to meet goals that we have set at the state level to reduce greenhouse gas and ultimately climate change impacts.”

With the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency measures for methane, manure storage and application on fields, the MPCA calculated the proposed Daley Farms expansion would emit about 32,500 tons of carbon dioxide annually, an increase of about 20,300 tons over current levels.

Daley Farms had proposed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including converting cropland to alfalfa and implementing more practices that reduce the potential of nitrogen runoff. The MPCA says there were no significant changes to the proposed project as a result of calculations made in the supplemental review.

Melissa Kuskie, manager for the MPCA environmental review, said it would be hard to measure how alfalfa cover crops or the placement of manure would help reduce emissions.

The MPCA expects to make a determination on the environmental review and permit later this spring.

Public comment on the proposed expansion is open through Feb. 20 until 4:30 p.m. The agency has scheduled a public informational meeting for 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 4 at the Lewiston Community Center. The report is available on the MPCA website.