Dairy Today editors
Large CAFO's Are Not Exempted From EPCRA Reporting
On December 18, 2008, the Environmental Protection Agency published a final rule that clarified which livestock facilities must report air emissions from their facilities. The two laws that are of interest to animal producers include the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA).
Which Emissions Must Be Reported?
Animal agriculture was granted an administrative exemption from reporting air emissions that normally occur from raising farm animals under CERCLA. Additionally, farms that are not large Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) according to NPDES permitting rules, are exempt from reporting under EPCRA. Without this exemption, much more wide-spread and rigorous reporting would be required.
Passage of the 2008 final rule provides a legal exemption that applies to most livestock operations and clarifies where the exemption does not apply – essentially for large CAFOs under EPCRA. EPCRA requires that, whenever there is a known release of a hazardous substance, the person in charge of a facility must notify state and local emergency responders. Previous drafts of the rule had essentially created a complete exemption for reporting air emissions from animal agriculture, so this rule came as a complete surprise to many producers, industry representatives, and those who advise producers.
When Must Animal Producers Comply With This New Rule?
Regulation of CAFO reporting is to be based upon ‘good faith emissions estimates'. A limited number of approaches for obtaining estimates are available. For most types of animal feeding operations, ammonia emissions are likely to trigger a reporting requirement, with reporting of hydrogen sulfide being much less likely.
Additional Information on Responsibility, Estimating Emissions, and Reporting
The rule clarifying the limited exemption is in the public record and is effective on January 20, 2009. For large CAFOs, a common interpretation is that there will be increasing liability for not complying with EPCRA following this effective date. Failure to comply with this requirement could result in fines up to $25,000 per day.