Withdrawal of CAFO Reporting Rule
Key Development: EPA will withdraw proposed rule that would have required all concentrated animal feeding operations, regardless of whether they discharge into water, to report information about their operations.
What's Next: EPA will work with the Association of Clean Water Administrators to collect information on CAFOs from existing state, local programs.
The Environmental Protection Agency will withdraw a proposed rule, widely opposed by livestock and other industry groups, that would have required all concentrated animal feeding operations to report information about their operations, regardless of whether they discharge into water.
In a notice that will soon be published in the Federal Register, the agency said it would collect basic information on CAFOs through existing sources at the state and local level. EPA said it had established a memorandum of understanding with the Association of Clean Water Administrators, which will assist the agency in collecting information.
EPA posted the notice on its website July 13. The agency said that working with states was an efficient approach that would “not duplicate efforts” from existing programs. The agency reserved the right to initiate a similar rulemaking at a future date.
First proposed in November 2011 as part of a settlement with the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Waterkeeper Alliance, and the Sierra Club, the rule would have required all CAFOs to report data on the size of their facilities and basic operational characteristics. The proposed rule also offered the option of only requiring information from CAFOs in watersheds with poor water quality compliance problems (NRDC v. EPA, 5th Cir., No. 08-61093, settlement reached 6/16/2010).
Another option in the proposed rule would have used already available information from CAFOs with National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits.
The settlement resolved a lawsuit filed by environmental groups opposing a 2008 CAFO rule that excluded certain facilities from reporting requirements.
Comments on the proposed rule were due in January. State farm bureaus and livestock, poultry, and dairy groups all said EPA could not require information from CAFOs that do not discharge under Section 308 of the Clean Water Act (15 DER A-29, 1/25/12).
EPA said it continued to consider CAFOs an important part of water quality planning, but that it could obtain all the necessary information through existing sources.
“Some states commented that they have the information proposed to be collected by the rule and expressed interest in working with the EPA to exchange that information,” the agency says in the forthcoming Federal Register notice. “Continued implementation of the permitting process for CAFOs will likely result in improvements in data tracking and availability and analysis of CAFO information.”
An EPA spokeswoman directed questions to the proposed Federal Register notice.
Don Parrish, senior director of regulatory relations for the American Farm Bureau Federation, said EPA made the right decision by withdrawing the rule.
“We think this approach is a good way to streamline the process and get EPA the information it needs,” he told BNA in a July 16 interview.
Livestock organizations also applauded the decision to pull the rule.
“The proposed rule was the result of a sweetheart settlement between EPA and environmentalists that would have provided no public health protections,” National Pork Producers Council President R.C. Hunt said in a statement. “It would have been a duplicative and burdensome paperwork exercise for producers.”
J.D. Alexander, president of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, said the decision showed how important it was for producers to get involved in the regulatory process.
“We encourage the agency to redirect its focus to working with states and other partners to attain already publicly available information that would allow them to work toward their goal of improved water quality,” he said in a July 13 statement. “This can be done in a way that does not put our food system at increased risk.”
Jon Devine, senior attorney for NRDC, said his organization was disappointed but not surprised by EPA's decision.
“Nothing in EPA's notice gives us any confidence that they'll be able to compile a usable database,” he told BNA. “The entire endeavor appears to be done on little more than shared hope.”
Devine said NRDC would work with other environmental groups to get EPA the relevant information as quickly as possible, but he described the approach as “doomed to fail.”
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).