The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) filed comments recently in support of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Nov. 14 proposal to exempt manure air emissions reporting from the Emergency Planning & Community Right-To-Know Act (ECPRA).
The rule is the final piece in the implementation of the Fair Agricultural Reporting Method (FARM) Act, which corrected a problem created in April 2017 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 & Liability Act (CERCLA) and EPCRA. The FARM Act exempted farmers from CERCLA; the proposed rule will exempt them from EPCRA.
In October 2017, EPA concluded that air emissions from manure did not need to be reported under EPCRA while signaling that it would take a substantive approach through rule-making to explain its thinking on the issue. EPA’s assessment largely was based on the fact that the air emissions are a result of “routine agricultural operations,” which are exempt from EPCRA reporting.
EPA’s current actions with EPCRA are consistent with Congress’ recent action to exempt manure emission reporting requirements under CERCLA.
In comments summited by NMPF, the dairy industry group expressed support for that approach and noted that the legislative history of EPCRA showed that Congress did not intend for continuous air emissions reports to be filed under EPCRA if they were not required under CERCLA. In further support of EPA’s action, NMPF has noted that the emergency response community has no use for these reports and that they impede their emergency response function.
“The record is clear: Congress, the U.S. Coast Guard and emergency responders around the country all oppose air emissions from manure reporting,” NMPF said in its comments. "We appreciate the opportunity to share our views on this important topic and commend the agency for its diligence.”
NMPF also concurred with EPA’s proposed new definitions of “animal waste” and “farms” and said it looks forward to EPA finalizing this rule-making as proposed.
NPPC also filed comments on the proposed rule exempting livestock farmers from reporting the routine emissions from their farms to state and local authorities.