Court extends livestock emissions reporting deadline

Spreading manure
Manure being spread on a field.

SALEM, Ohio — Livestock producers now have extra time to report their livestock emissions to the federal EPA, although they should probably begin working on their recordkeeping.

A federal appeals court has granted an extension of the reporting deadline, giving producers until Jan. 22 to report their livestock emissions, if those same emissions fall under EPA’s “hazardous substances” list.

For farmers, the two most likely hazardous substances are ammonia and hydrogen sulfide. If emissions exceed the 100-pound threshold, farmers are required to notify the EPA within 24 hours, through its National Response Center.

The rule is part of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA).

The EPA had sought an exemption for most farms, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit struck down the EPA ruling in April 2017. The deadline had previously been Nov. 15, but the EPA announced it would not require reporting until the court released its ruling on the extension.

How to calculate

The big question is how do you track livestock emissions and how do you calculate the exact amount. The calculation differs based on the type of animal you keep, the type of setup at each farm and how waste is handled.

“There is a tremendous amount of variation on that,” said Maurice Eastridge, an Ohio State University dairy specialist.

Acceptable calculation

The EPA, trade groups and land grant universities are working on some acceptable calculations farmers can use. You can learn more by visiting their websites or working with your state’s livestock association.

The EPA provides specific formulas farmers can use to calculate emissions, but at the same time, admits that calculations will be difficult.

“EPA recognizes that it will be challenging for farmers to report releases from animal wastes because there is no generally accepted methodology for estimating emission quantities at this time,” according to the EPA website. “EPA understands that farmers may need to report their releases in broad ranges that reflect the high degree of uncertainty and variability of these releases.”

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