(scroll down for statement from National Cattlemen’s Beef Association)
Source: EPA | June 4, 2019
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler signed a final rule on June 4 amending the emergency release notification regulations under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). The amendments clarify that reporting of air emissions from animal waste at farms is not required under EPCRA.
The final rule comes as first responders across the county have repeatedly reminded the agency that community-specific protocols are determined between local responders and animal producers well in advance of emergencies. These strong partnerships provide a platform for resolving issues when they arise without the need for a national one-size-fits-all approach.
“This final rule provides clarity and certainty to the regulated community that animal waste emissions from farms do not need to be reported under EPCRA,” said Administrator Wheeler. “This action eliminates an onerous reporting requirement and allows emergency responders and farmers to focus on protecting the public and feeding the nation, not routine animal waste emissions.”
“The goal of emergency response officials and local emergency planning committees (LEPCs) is to prepare communities for emergency threats related to hazardous chemical releases. Such emergency threats do not include ‘best guess’ reporting on day-to-day emissions on farms and animal operations,” said National Association of SARA Title III Program Officials (NASTTPO) President Tim Gablehouse. “The focus of LEPCs should be and is on chemical hazards that present meaningful risk of harm to community members and first responders. We look forward to working on enhanced coordination and cooperation between all community members to improve preparedness for hazardous chemical releases.”
The changes to emergency release reporting regulations reflect the existing relationship between EPCRA and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and provide consistency between the two environmental laws.
On March 23, 2018, President Trump signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018 (“Omnibus Bill”). Title XI of the Omnibus Bill is entitled the “Fair Agricultural Reporting Method Act” or the “FARM Act.” The FARM Act expressly exempts reporting of air emissions from animal waste (including decomposing animal waste) at a farm from CERCLA section 103. The FARM Act also provides definitions for the terms “animal waste” and “farm.” Because these types of releases are exempted under CERCLA, based on the release reporting criteria under EPCRA section 304, these types of releases are also exempt under EPCRA section 304.
On October 30, 2018, then Acting Administrator Wheeler proposed the reporting exemption under EPCRA alongside National Association of SARA Title III Program Officials (NASTTPO) President Tim Gablehouse and various state animal producer trade associations.
You can read the final rule here: https://www.epa.gov/epcra/amendment-emergency-release-notification-regulations-reporting-exemption-air-emissions-animal
This final rule maintains consistency between the emergency release notification requirements of EPCRA and CERCLA in accordance with the statutory text and framework of EPCRA.
For more information, please visit www.epa.gov/animalwaste.
NCBA Welcomes Exemption from EPCRA’s “Frivilous Reporting Requirements”
Jennifer Houston, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, released the following statement June 4, 2019, in response to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler’s finalization of a rule exempting livestock producers from unnecessary reporting requirements under EPCRA:
“Farmers, ranchers, and emergency response officials all agree: routine emissions from agricultural operations are not a threat to local communities. Congress made a common-sense decision to exempt livestock producers from frivolous reporting requirements at the federal level with its passage of the FARM Act, and we are glad to see EPA fully implement the law by providing relief from burdensome state and local reporting requirements. Rather than submitting needless paperwork, talking to responders about potential on-farm hazards can save lives. The removal of this unnecessary burden will allow first responders to focus on real emergencies, and will allow livestock producers to focus on feeding the world.