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NMPF Cheers EPA Efforts to Exempt Manure Air Emission Reporting Under EPCRA

June 11, 2019

NMPF celebrated a successful milestone in a more than two-year effort on June 5, when the Environmental Protection Agency issued a final rule that codified its earlier interpretation that air emissions from manure are not reportable under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act.

The action successfully concludes a battle in which NMPF was involved at every step.

“We are pleased with the outcome of EPA’s painstaking efforts,” said Jim Mulhern, NMPF president and CEO. “This final rule codifies what’s been the right thing to do all along.”

The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) of 1986 was created to help communities plan for chemical emergencies and requires industry to report on the storage, use and release of hazardous substances to federal, state, and local governments. The extent to which agricultural operations needed to be included has been controversial, with the EPA moving toward fewer burdensome requirements for farmers.

NMPF had been engaged with the effort to codify the manure exemption since April 2017, filing comments as recently as last December supporting EPA’s efforts last fall to modify its regulations to eliminate the reporting of ammonia or hydrogen sulfide air emissions from manure.

EPA had concluded in Oct. 2017 that air emissions from manure did not need to be reported under EPCRA while signaling it would explain its thinking on the issue through rulemaking. EPA’s assessment largely was based on the conclusion that the air emissions were a result of “routine agricultural operations” exempt from EPCRA reporting.

EPA’s final actions with EPCRA is consistent with Congress’ recent action to exempt manure emissions reporting requirements under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).  NMPF supported that approach and noted that EPCRA’s legislative history showed that Congress did not intend for continuous air emissions reports to be filed under EPCRA if they were not required under CERCLA.

NMPF has noted in its support for EPA that the emergency response community has said it doesn’t need these reports and that they impede their emergency response function.