WASHINGTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency may exempt livestock farmers from reporting the routine emissions from their farms to state and local authorities.
The proposed rule, announced Oct. 26, is the final piece in the implementation of the FARM Act, which passed Congress earlier this year and which eliminated the need for livestock farmers to estimate and report to the federal government emissions from the natural breakdown of manure.
The Fair Agricultural Reporting Method, or FARM, Act fixed a problem created last April when a U.S. Court of Appeals rejected a 2008 EPA rule that exempted farmers from reporting routine farm emissions under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA).
Commonly known as the “Superfund Law,” CERCLA is used primarily to clean hazardous waste sites but also includes a mandatory federal reporting component.
The appeals court ruling would have forced tens of thousands of livestock farmers to “guesstimate” and report the emissions from manure on their farms to the U.S. Coast Guard’s National Response Center and subjected them to citizen lawsuits from activist groups.
EPA’s latest proposed rule would exempt farmers from reporting to state and local first responders under the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) — an adjunct to CERCLA — that they have “hazardous” emissions on their farms.
National Pork Producers Council President Jim Heimerl, a pork producer from Johnstown, Ohio, said it’s “unnecessary and impractical for farmers to waste their time and resources alerting government agencies that there are livestock on farms.”
“The pork industry wants regulations that are practical and effective, but applying CERCLA and EPCRA to livestock farms would be neither,” Heimerl said.
He said the pork industry and other livestock sectors are working with state and local emergency response agencies to ensure they receive information about farms that is useful.
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