June 6, 2019
U.S. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler signed a final rulemaking that would exclude air emissions from animal manure for the reporting requirements of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) on June 4. While the rule will take effect 30 days from the date that it is formally published in the Federal Register, it is expected to be challenged in federal court almost immediately.
Though the chances are excellent that the legal challenge will fail and the new final rule’s provisions will stand, it is not certain. Still, there are reasons to hope that the end of the struggle, which started in 1999 when Tyson Foods was sued for failure to report emissions from meat bird operations, is near. One of the reasons for UEP’s strong support of this final rule is that EPCRA reporting is not needed to achieve the most important goal of EPCRA – to help local first responders work with their communities to properly prepare for emergencies.
Last fall UEP surveyed egg producers, responsible for about half of the egg-laying flocks in the U.S., and found strong evidence that this collaborative work is already happening in the case of many egg producers and first responders. The survey demonstrated that the majority of producers are already in contact with their local first responders at least annually or more frequently. About 75 percent of these farmers also provide direct financial support to their local first responders, and about 50 percent have family members or staff that volunteer with the first responders as firefighters or emergency medical service technicians.
UEP issued a statement of support when the final rule was signed. Chad Gregory, UEP President and CEO, was quoted in the June 5, AgriPulse article “EPA finalizes animal waste reporting exemptions,” saying the rule “recognizes that EPCRA/CERCLA reporting was not needed for farms and ensures that emergency first responders do not lose valuable time and effort responding to non-emergencies.”
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