ACTIVIST GROUPS FORCED EPA TO CLASSIFY YOUR FARM AS POTENTIALLY ‘HAZARDOUS’

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency until April 2017 had exempted farms from reporting air emissions under hazardous waste laws. But that ended after activist groups convinced a federal court to throw out the exemption. Now farmers whose operations meet certain thresholds must file reports on their ambiguous emissions, and the burdensome regulations could affect their livelihoods and your food prices!

 Call your congressional lawmakers at (202) 224-3121 to let them know you’re concerned about this government overreach!

As many as 200,000 farms and ranches across the nation will be forced to report their daily emissions to the U.S. Coast Guard and EPA, or face fines of up to almost $54,000 a day.

It’s up to Congress to fix this bad court decision.

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IMPORTANCE

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency until April 2017 had exempted livestock farms from reporting air emissions under hazardous waste laws. But that ended after activist groups convinced a federal court to throw out the exemption. Now farmers whose operations meet certain thresholds must file reports on their emissions, beginning Jan. 22. Unless the burdensome regulation is stopped through legislation, farmers could see their livelihoods negatively affected and consumers could see increases in food prices.

 

BACKGROUND

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) was enacted to provide cleanup for the worst industrial chemical toxic waste dumps and spills. The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) was enacted to ensure that parties who emit hazardous chemicals submit reports to their local emergency responders to allow for more effective planning for chemical emergencies. While both laws include reporting requirements, neither was intended to govern livestock operations, whose animal emissions are part of everyday life. Given that low-level livestock emissions are not the kind of “releases” Congress intended to manage with the hazardous waste laws, EPA in 2008 finalized a rule to clarify that all farms were exempt from CERCLA reporting and that small farms also were exempt from EPCRA reporting.

When it was sued in 2009, the Obama EPA defended the exemption in court on the grounds that CERCLA and EPCRA did not explicitly exempt farms because Congress never believed agriculture would be considered as covered under the statutes; a specific exemption was not necessary. Additionally, EPA had reasoned that, while livestock emissions might exceed thresholds that would trigger responses under CERCLA, such responses would be “unnecessary, impractical and unlikely.”

But in April 2017, a U.S. Court of Appeals vacated the exemption, putting nearly 100,000 farms under the regulatory reporting authorities of CERCLA and EPCRA.

Importantly, emergency responders do not see value in the reporting from farms, and the influx of agricultural reports will hurt emergency response coordination. The National Association of SARA Title III Program Officials, which represents state and local emergency response commissions, notes the reports “are of no value to [Local Emergency Planning Committees] and first responders” and “are generally ignored because they do not relate to any particular event.”

The U.S. Coast Guard’s National Response Center, which is the sole federal point of contact for reporting oil and chemical spills, said calls from farmers – the initial reporting deadline was Nov. 15, 2017 – have “increased from approximately 100-150 calls per day (not associated with air releases from farms) to over 1,000 phone calls per day.” That influx has negatively affected the Coast Guard’s ability to coordinate responses for true emergencies.

 

ACTION NEEDED

CERCLA and EPCRA were intended to focus on significant events such as spills or explosions, not routine emissions from farms and ranches. Furthermore, the reporting requirements have already begun to hurt emergency responders’ ability to do their job to protect the public health.

Congress must pass legislation that will eliminate the reporting burden on farmers and emergency responders.

 

Call your congressional lawmakers at (202) 224-3121 and tell them to fix this problem!

 

The Threats

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Freedom to Farm is a national campaign of U.S. consumers, farmers, policymakers, and agriculture groups fighting for policies that increase U.S. food production and jobs and against ones that place costly, unnecessary restrictions on U.S. producers. The campaign’s tens of thousands of supporters across the nation advocate against illegitimate and unnecessary public policies, like the GIPSA Rule, that increase the cost of producing food and potentially put farmers out of business. And they advocate against the unreasonable agendas pushed by extreme animal and environmental activists, and their friends in government, aimed at damaging U.S. agriculture forever. Through outreach, education, and advocacy, Freedom to Farm is about protecting and promoting the interests of the many hard-working farming families in the U.S. who produce the food the world consumes. 

To contact the Freedom to Farm campaign, please send an e-mail to info@FreedomtoFarm.com.