WASHINGTON, Sept. 7, 2017 - The House adopted an amendment to its massive fiscal 2018 spending package that would prevent livestock operations from having to report air emissions of ammonia and other hazardous substances.
The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in April that the EPA in 2008 illegally exempted all but the largest concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) from reporting emissions that exceed certain levels. The appeals court has given EPA until Nov. 14 to decide how to enforce the reporting requirement.
The amendment, sponsored by Rep. Billy Long, R-Mo., and approved on a voice vote Thursday evening, is designed to prevent EPA from requiring the reporting, but the provision almost certainly won’t become law before the November deadline.
The Senate still must agree to include it in a final spending package and that is not expected to be finalized before December.
“These family farms and ranchers across the nation shouldn’t be burdened with just more and more paperwork to do an activity that they’ve been doing for many, many years,” said Rep. Ken Calvert, a California Republican who chairs the House Interior-Environment Appropriations Subcommittee.
Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., argued that the reporting requirement was needed to protect rural residents who may be harmed from the emissions. “Policy riders like this do not belong in the appropriations bills. And the EPA should either accept the court decision or they should appeal the court decision,” she said.
On another EPA issue, the House voted 214-197 to adopt an amendment by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., that would prevent the agency from taking action against a state in the Chesapeake Bay region that failed to meet its pollution limits.
Goodlatte said the amendment would “reaffirm and preserve the rights of the states to write their own water quality plans.” But another Virginian, Democrat Bobby Scott, said the amendment would “endanger the progress we’ve made in restoring the Chesapeake Bay watershed.”
The overall spending package, which the House was to continue debating on Friday and into next week, combines eight of 12 annual appropriations bills and would fund much of the government's non-defense functions.
The House adopted a series of amendments to both the Interior-EPA and Agriculture sections of the bill that were proposed by Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., to curb harmful algae blooms. One amendment would give USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service an additional $5.6 million to prevent and mitigate farm runoff. A second amendment would give the National Institute of Food and Agriculture an additional $2 million to study the issue.
Mast said his amendments are “are cost-effective solutions to a problem that has caused incalculable damage to our community.”
Other USDA-related amendments that the House adopted would address the school lunch program. One proposed by Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wis.,, would prevent schools from shaming kids whose parents are behind on meal payments.
An amendment introduced by Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., would kill a provision of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act aimed at forcing schools to increase lunch prices if they charge less than the federal reimbursement rate. USDA has been providing an exemption from the rule on a yearly basis. Hartzler’s proposal seeks to do away with the requirement altogether, according to the School Nutrition Association, which supported it.