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Court denies rehearing on emissions reporting

EPA expected to ask court for a stay of order to enforce CERCLA and EPCRA on concentrated animal feeding operations.

A federal court denied a request from the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and the U.S. Poultry & Egg Assn. (USPOULTRY) seeking a rehearing following a recent ruling issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit requiring additional waste emissions reporting requirements for concentrated animal feeding operations.

The court’s ruling rejected an exemption from reporting under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation & Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Emergency Planning & Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) -- two programs that are meant to inform the National Response Center and local first responders of hazards that may call for emergency action.

The Environmental Protection Agency had provided an exemption from CERCLA reporting of low-level emissions of ammonia and hydrogen sulfide generated from the natural breakdown of animal manure after the agency’s evaluation demonstrated that any emergency response to such emission reports was “unnecessary, impractical and unlikely.”

EPA had limited EPCRA reporting of such emissions to one-time reports for continuous releases from large, confined animal feeding operations. USPOULTRY and NPPC intervened in the lawsuit to defend the agency’s commonsense exemption.

The request for a rehearing was also supported by the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Cattlemen’s Beef Assn., National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Milk Producers Federation and United Egg Producers.

NPPC spokesman Dave Warner said, “We expect that EPA will ask the court for a stay of its order to enforce CERCLA and EPCRA on concentrated animal feeding operations.”

Warner added, “NPPC will work for a regulatory solution to what would be a paperwork nightmare for livestock farmers.”

At the end of May, 28 senators signed a letter urging EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to challenge the D.C. Circuit’s decision and to “provide America’s farmers and ranchers with regulatory relief through agency directive and rule-making.”

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