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Air Emissions Reporting for Animal Waste May Return

Posted on 12/11/2023 by Nick Waldron

US EPA is requesting input from stakeholders and the public to help determine if EPCRA reporting requirements for animal waste air emissions should be reinstated, and, if so, in what fashion.

Animal waste can generate potentially harmful air emissions of ammonia and hydrogen sulfide, which are listed as hazardous substances (HSs) and extremely hazardous substances (EHSs) under CERCLA and EPCRA, respectively.

Comments must be received on or before February 15, 2024.

EPA’s Considerations for the Rule

Several considerations will factor into a potential EPCRA reporting rule. EPA plans to weigh the health impacts from animal waste air emissions, the costs and benefits of a rule, implementation challenges for farmers and regulators, how to define and regulate small farms, and how to protect small farmers' privacy.  

EPA also asks commenters to consider whether, in this situation, a creative solution could replace binary reporting rules (i.e., “yes/no,” “report/do not report”).

A Brief History of Animal Waste Air Emissions Regulations

Animal waste air emissions reporting from farms has a back-and-forth regulatory history over the last two decades.

Prior to 2008, all farms were subject to release reporting for air emissions under both CERCLA and EPCRA. On December 18, 2008, EPA published a final rule that exempted all farms from reporting animal waste air emissions under CERCLA and exempted small and medium concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) from reporting such emissions under EPCRA. EPA intended to reduce the reporting burden on farms and emergency response agencies.

In April 2017, the 2008 rule was vacated by the United States Court of Appeals. The court acknowledged the potential health risks of some animal waste air emissions and found that reporting could be useful to local and state authorities who may need to investigate or respond to these releases. Reporting requirements for air emissions from animal waste for all farms were effectively reinstated under CERCLA and EPCRA.

The 2018 FARM Act exempted all farms from reporting air emissions from animal waste under CERCLA but did not amend EPCRA in any way.

EPA proposed a rule on November 14, 2018, to exempt all farms from reporting air emissions from animal waste under EPCRA and finalized the rule on June 13, 2019, taking effect July 15, 2019.

Understanding EPCRA and CERCLA Responsibilities

Sign up for the two-hour Superfund and Right-to-Know Act Regulations online course to get familiar with the complex planning and reporting responsibilities in the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).

Tags: environmental compliance, EPA, EPCRA, reporting and recordkeeping

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