On Monday October 30, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) filed a motion Monday in the D.C. Circuit asking the court to delay the reporting requirement until January 18, 2018. Unless the motion is granted, owners or operators of farms with reportable releases of hazardous substances from animal waste must begin reporting those releases on November 15, 2017.
Since April, EPA has been developing guidance to help farms come into compliance with requirements to report certain releases of hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (“CERCLA”) and Emergency Planning and Right-to-Know Act (“EPCRA”).
With regard to CERCLA reporting, last week, EPA released a preliminary guidance and solicited public input. You can read our analysis of the preliminary guidance here. In the motion to delay the reporting requirement, EPA requests additional time to finalize its guidance and incorporate feedback received. EPA is also developing a streamlined continuous release reporting form designed specifically for farms.
With respect to EPCRA reporting, EPA issued a preliminary interpretation of EPCRA provisions as excluding farms that use substances in routine agricultural operation from EPCRA reporting requirements. Under the statute, only facilities where “hazardous chemicals” are “produced, used, or stored” are required to report. Excluded from the definition of “hazardous chemical” is “any substance to the extent it is used in routine agricultural operations.” In its preliminary interpretation, the EPA states that “the feeding and breeding of animals, as well as the expected handling and storage of the animals’ waste, would…be considered a routine agricultural operation,” exempt from EPCRA’s reporting requirements. EPA plans to initiate a rulemaking formalizing this interpretation within the next two months.
Our environmental attorneys can help potentially affected farm owners and operators understand and meet these release reporting requirements. For more information on how these regulations may impact your operation, please contact Robert Wilkinson or Megan McLean of Husch Blackwell’s Environmental team.