Court Delays Emissions Reporting

EPA Wins Appeal, Has Until May 1 to Address Livestock Emissions Reporting Rule

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Staff Reporter
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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's emissions reporting rule could affect about 200,000 farms and ranches. (DTN file photo)

OMAHA (DTN) -- Livestock producers will have until at least May 1 before they are required to report certain emissions to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a federal appeals court ruled on Thursday.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit granted a request the EPA made on Jan. 19 to delay the rule.

In April 2017, the court threw out an EPA decision to not require livestock operations to report emissions of more than 100 pounds per day of either ammonia or hydrogen sulfide. That essentially allowed the reporting rule to take full effect on Nov. 15, 2017. But in November 2017, the court delayed the rule.

In its Jan. 19 motion, the EPA said farmers are not yet ready to meet the requirements of the mandate.

Animal feeding operations that confine more than 1,000 head of cattle, 2,500 head of hogs, or 125,000 chickens are defined as concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, by EPA. Ammonia and hydrogen sulfide emitted from livestock lagoons have been classified as "hazardous" and "extremely hazardous."

The National Pork Producers Council and the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association filed court briefs in support of the EPA's request to delay the mandate in the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, or CERCLA, and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, or EPCRA.

The EPA requested the delay to allow for further coordination in response to what is expected to be an increase in reports made to the EPA.

A number of environmental groups led by the Waterkeeper Alliance had asked the court to deny the agency's request for an extension, calling the request a "smokescreen" to further delay the rule.

The National Cattlemen's Beef Association had raised a number of concerns about how the rule could affect producers.

First, prior to the rule, only those cattle operations with 1,000 or more animals were required to submit reports. With the rule, operations with as few as 208 cattle were subject to reporting.

In addition, the livestock industry has been concerned about the costs to comply with the reporting requirements and exposure to citizen lawsuits.

The NCBA launched a media campaign in January aimed at spotlighting the reporting requirement.

NCBA Chief Environmental Counsel Scott Yager is featured in an online video wearing a yellow hazmat suit explaining the rule while at a federal Superfund site in Virginia. He then shows the contrast between that site and a nearby cattle farm.

The rule potentially affects nearly 200,000 farms and ranches.

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Todd Neeley