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EPA Administrator Codifies Animal Waste Reporting Exemptions Under CERCLA

August 7, 2018

Late in July, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler approved a final rule to ensure that the legislative clarifications made by Congress earlier this year in manure-related air emissions regulations exempt dairy farmers and other livestock producers.

EPA’s move codifies the Fair Agricultural Reporting Method (FARM) Act passed by Congress earlier this year, after NMPF and other farm groups asked lawmakers to specify that ammonia and hydrogen sulfide emissions from animal feeding operations should not be regulated under the CERCLA.

The rule corresponds with the CERCLA/EPCRA reporting exemption handed down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. On December 18, 2008, EPA published a final rule that had exempted many farms from reporting air releases of hazardous substances from animal waste. On April 11, 2017, the D.C. Circuit Court vacated this final rule – exposing farms to potential new data reporting obligations.

Farms, however, remained exempt because of NMPF-backed legislative changes featured in the Fair Agricultural Reporting Method (FARM) Act, which was passed into law by Congress last March. The final rule makes regulatory revisions to reflect changes to CERCLA enacted in the FARM Act. EPA also removed the 2008 definitions of “farm” and “animal waste” from its regulations and added revised definitions of these terms to CERCLA regulations that correspond with the FARM Act.

“EPA is taking action to reflect Congress’s direction in the FARM Act that removed an undue reporting burden on American agriculture,” said Wheeler. “EPA is committed to providing regulatory clarity and certainty to farmers and ranchers — hardworking Americans invested in conserving the land and environment.”