The Environmental Protection Agency made it official Tuesday, issuing a final rule to exempt farms from reporting animal waste emissions to state and local authorities under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act.
The rule follows congressional passage last year of a law that provides a similar exemption under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, or CERCLA.
EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said the new rule “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.”
Farm groups, who sought the exemptions, applauded the agency. United Egg Producers CEO Chad Gregory said the rule “recognizes that EPCRA/CERCLA reporting was not needed for farms and ensures that emergency first responders do not lose valuable time and effort responding to non-emergencies.”
Environmental groups, who had previously won a lawsuit challenging similar exemptions, were critical of the proposal when it was published last fall, saying EPA’s interpretation of EPCRA was illegal. But EPA said in the final rule that the relevant EPCRA reporting requirements are dependent on requirements in CERCLA. Specifically, “Because air emissions from animal waste at farms do not ‘occur in a manner’ that would require notification under CERCLA section 103(a), such releases are not reportable under EPCRA section 304(a)(2),” the rule said.
EPCRA section 304, the agency said, “serves as a notification requirement for chemical accidental releases [and] is not intended to regulate emissions.”
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