Reporting Exemption under EPCRA For Animal Waste Air Emissions
EPA Administrator Signs Final Rule to Add Reporting Exemption Under EPCRA for Air Emissions from Animal Waste
On June 4, 2019, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler signed a final rule amending the emergency release notification regulations under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). The amendments clarify that reporting of air emissions from animal waste at farms is not required under EPCRA.
The final rule comes as first responders across the county have repeatedly reminded the agency that community-specific protocols are determined between local responders and animal producers well in advance of emergencies. These strong partnerships provide a platform for resolving issues when they arise without the need for a national one-size-fits-all approach.
“This final rule provides clarity and certainty to the regulated community that animal waste emissions from farms do not need to be reported under EPCRA,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “This action 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.”
“The goal of emergency response officials and local emergency planning committees (LEPCs) is to prepare communities for emergency threats related to hazardous chemical releases. Such emergency threats do not include 'best guess' reporting on day-to-day emissions on farms and animal operations,” said National Association of SARA Title III Program Officials (NASTTPO) President Tim Gablehouse. “The focus of LEPCs should be and is on chemical hazards that present meaningful risk of harm to community members and first responders. We look forward to working on enhanced coordination and cooperation between all community members to improve preparedness for hazardous chemical releases.”
The changes to emergency release reporting regulations reflect the existing relationship between EPCRA and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and provide consistency between the two environmental laws.
On March 23, 2018, President Trump signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018 (“Omnibus Bill”). Title XI of the Omnibus Bill is entitled the “Fair Agricultural Reporting Method Act” or the “FARM Act.” The FARM Act expressly exempts reporting of air emissions from animal waste (including decomposing animal waste) at a farm from CERCLA section 103. The FARM Act also provides definitions for the terms “animal waste” and “farm.” Because these types of releases are exempted under CERCLA, based on the release reporting criteria under EPCRA section 304, these types of releases are also exempt under EPCRA section 304.