The Environmental Protection Agency has filed a motion to extend the mandate that requires livestock farmers to report “releases of hazardous substances” under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (“CERCLA”) until April 23 or three months after a stay order from the courts, whichever is later.
If approved by the court, the requirement demands that farmers report “when they release hazardous substances from animal waste in amounts greater than/equal to their reportable quantity within a 24-hour period.”
“The additional three months will also give EPA time to finalize the streamlined continuous release reporting form that the Agency has developed and is currently undergoing review by the Office of Management and Budget,” EPA told the court.
This is a difficult situation because of the uncertainty surrounding the requirements,” said Laura Campbell, manager of Michigan Farm Bureau’s Agriculture Ecology Department. “We don’t have certainty about when farmers will have to report, how they need to estimate potential emissions, and how activist groups might use the information to harass farmers.
“We’re not always on the same side of issues with EPA, but in this case EPA has been on our side – they finalized a rule exempting farms, and are only now requiring reporting because of the activist lawsuit,” she said. “They are trying to help farmers with understanding this requirement, and are working to update information on their website to provide information on the requirement.”
The EPA, in its motion, acknowledged farmer confusion.
“The additional time will enable EPA to continue its coordination with the National Response Center on how to manage the influx of reports while still providing viable reporting methods for all farms,” the EPA wrote in its motion to the U.S. District Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. EPA said there is still confusion among farmers about how to meet the reporting obligations.
The EPA also issued Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) documents to help farmers understand their obligations.
- Visit www.epa.gov/animalwaste for guidance and access to the continuous release reporting forms
- Email comments or suggestions on guidance materials to: [email protected]
- Regional Contacts: www.epa.gov/epcra/cr-erns-regional-contacts
- Call with questions: 1-800-424-9346
When farmers file their reports, Campbell said they should be sent to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5, 77 West Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60604-3507, or [email protected]
- Farms should email the following information: Farm name, state and county ONLY, a statement saying they are making initial notification of a continuous release of a reportable pollutant (ammonia, and if applicable, hydrogen sulfide), and that the farm is requesting an identification number (CR-ERNS). Subject line of the email should say “Initial Continuous Release Notification.”
- Farms can make this initial contact to the National Response Center in ONE message for ALL locations of their farms (the follow up written report will have to include a separate report for each farm location).
Stay up to date on the latest by checking the website EPA has dedicated to CERCLA reporting: https://www.epa.gov/epcra/cercla-and-epcra-reporting-requirements-air-releases-hazardous-substances-animal-waste-farms. Michigan Farm Bureau is working with EPA, MDARD, DEQ, MSU and other partners to develop additional materials to help farmers with this requirement as well.