Friday, December 16, 2016

Environmentalists, EPA, farm groups argue in court over rule exempting reporting farm emissions

An Environmental Protection Agency rule "exempting most animal feeding operations from emergency reporting requirements for ammonia and hydrogen sulfide was challenged as both too tough and not tough enough, in arguments before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Monday," reports Agri-Pulse. Environmental groups "sued EPA over that regulation, which exempts all but the largest animal feeding operations from reporting ammonia and hydrogen sulfide emissions that exceed 100 pounds in 24 hours."

Attorney Jonathan James Smith of Earthjustice, said the emergency-reporting law doesn't allow EPA to exempt farms, "as EPA did in 2008 when it issued a rule under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA)," reports Agri-Pulse.

Smith "emphasized the potential benefits to public health of required reporting, saying that having information about releases helps the public avoid the facilities emitting the chemicals, and can guide state and local agencies in crafting regulations," reports Agri-Pulse. He "also took aim at the size standards EPA used in defining which facilities would have to report—including those with fewer than 700 mature dairy cows, or those with 2,500 swine weighing 55 pounds or more (or 10,000 swine weighing 55 pounds or less)."

Attorney David Chung of Crowell & Moring, arguing for the National Pork Producers Council and the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association, "contended that EPA had no authority to require even large operations to report their releases because there is no evidence that animal waste emissions would ever trigger an emergency response," reports Agri-Pulse. He added that 'reducing emissions is not the purpose of the emergency notification provisions.'”

"That point also was made by EPA in the final rule, when it said it 'believes that state or local emergency response authorities are unlikely to respond to notifications of air releases of hazardous substances from animal waste at farms',” reports Agri-Pulse. EPA, represented by the U.S. Department of Justice, argued "that the environmental groups had not been able to demonstrate legal standing in the case. Even assuming they have standing, however, the two DOJ lawyers said that EPA’s rule was reasonable and avoids unnecessary burdens on federal, state and local agencies, as well as on the farms that do not have to report."

Agri-Pulse is subscription only, but can be viewed by clicking here.

No comments: