WASHINGTON, June 27, 2012 – Dairy groups asked Congress this week to guarantee that regulations designed to protect the environment against toxic waste do not ensnare dairy farmers and others who raise farm animals.

A House Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy hearing on Wednesday reviewed legislation introduced by Rep. Billy Long, R- Mo., designated as H.R. 2997, or the Superfund Commonsense Act.

The act would clarify that manure is not included in the meaning of “hazardous substance” as defined by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) regulations, and also would eliminate the reporting requirement for releases associated with manure under the Emergency Planning & Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA) regulation.

The CERCLA law,created more than 30 years ago, , and the EPCRA law were both intended to regulate hazardous, not animal, waste, said National Milk Producers Federation in a release today. 

Dairy Farmers of America’s Walter Bradley testified on behalf of the dairy industry and reminded committee members that concentration animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and their environmental releases are subject to both state and federal laws.

 “We are not seeking an exemption from the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) or the Clean Air Act (CAA) or similar state laws including any federal or state worker protection laws,” Bradley said.“We are merely seeking clarification under CERCLA and EPCRA that animal manure does not necessitate an emergency response nor does it create a Superfund site.”

Without the clarity provided in Rep. Long’s legislation, Bradley told the committee that “the courts are left to redefine the regulation. Animal manure has been safely used as a fertilizer and soil amendment all over the world for centuries.”

“In recent years, however, we have seen litigation challenge the use of animal manure as a fertilizer by claiming contamination and damage to natural resources. The issue of CERCLA/EPCRA’s applicability to the livestock industry has been discussed in Congress several times in the last decade. I believe congressional intent is clear. When the law was passed, Congress did not intend for manure to be regulated as a hazardous substance,” Bradley concluded.

For a copy of Bradley’s entire testimony, click here.


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