Committee tables hydrogen sulfide bill

Committee tables hydrogen sulfide bill
The Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee voted to table a bill Jan. 19 that regulated hydrogen sulfide levels surrounding livestock farms.

Sen. Frank J. Kloucek, D-Scotland, sponsored the bill because he feels hydrogen sulfide is causing health problems among families and communities near the large farms.

"This certainly is a health and safety issue," Kloucek said. "This is an attempt to give some protection to neighbors."

But Sen. John Koskan, R-Wood, said there is no real scientific evidence to support the bill and it couldn't be passed without it.

If the state tried to regulate hydrogen sulfide levels, they would have to regulate other facilities that produce the gas, such as landfills and cheese plants, said Steve Pirner, secretary of the State Department of Environment and Natural Resources. That would be difficult to do, especially since the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hasn't set any federal standards, he said.

Pirner said the bill is ahead of its time because the EPA has only begun research to set a hydrogen sulfide standard level.

Sen. Tom Hansen, R-Huron said the bill would hurt farmers' ability to make a profit and South Dakota's reputation as an agriculture state.

"If this bill is passed, it would be a terrible step backward," he said.

But Julie Junsen, representing Clean Water Action in Olivia, MN, disagreed because she said the bill would protect people's health.

"This bill will not hurt agriculture, just benefit," she said.

The bill was written to pertain to farms with 300 head or more of livestock.The committee voted 5-2 to table the bill, which essentially kills it.

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