On February 19, 2019, the Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments regarding “Whether the CWA [Clean Water Act] requires a permit when pollutants originate from a point source but are conveyed to navigable waters by a nonpoint source, such as groundwater” following a circuit split between the Fourth, Sixth, and Ninth Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. Read more about this case history and the legal arguments on the Emerging Energy Insights blog:

CWA Series: SCOTUS Agrees to Grant Certiorari on Indirect Discharge Question

Farms.com discussed a proposed EPA rule exempting farms from emission reporting.

USAgNet discussed EU restrictions on use of antibiotics on healthy farm animals.

The Conversation reported on current efforts to develop compostable food packaging.

The Environmental Leader reported on the rise of packaging-free grocery stores.

Agweb reported on FDA approval of drug to reduce manure gas emissions.


Digital Journal discussed the impact of climate change on barley crops and beer production.

Food Dive discussed a new website aimed at helping consumers understand the environmental impact of the food they eat.

Western Farm Press reported on a USDA, EPA and FDA partnership to reduce food waste.

The East Bay Times discussed California ballot issues on cage free eggs and animal welfare.

The High Plains Journal discussed low-interest USDA loan for victims of natural disasters.

USAgNet discussed industry groups request for new beef labeling requirements.

The Houston Chronicle reported on a provision in the 2018 Farm Bill that would remove certain rules on EPA pesticide review.

The Western Producer discussed farmer reaction to potential trade war with China and proposed subsidies.

The Press-Enterprise reported on six California bills aimed at reducing plastic waste.

Bloomberg discussed the impact of Chinese sorghum tariff on Kansas agriculture.


Since the Clean Water Act was passed in 1972, there has been extensive debate over which waters may be regulated as waters of the United States under the act. Yesterday, Bob Wilkinson explained how this issue came to a head in a recent 9th Circuit opinion and how, in response, EPA is requesting comments on whether pollutant discharges from point sources that reach jurisdictional surface waters via groundwater or other subsurface flow with a direct hydrologic connection to the jurisdictional surface water may be subject to regulation under the Clean Water Act. This is important to you because farmers, manufacturers, and anyone who conducts activities that release pollutants to groundwater will be affected by whether and how EPA clarifies its position regarding whether these discharges are subject to regulation. Our Environmental team blogged about this topic yesterday, please read more here.

Today, attorney Megan Caldwell blogged about two recent agency enforcement memoranda impacting the enforcement of environmental violations. You can read the blog post here. This is important to you, as it may change your company’s approach to compliance with certain agency guidance documents, as well as your emphasis on relationships with state environmental agencies versus U.S. EPA.

On February 1, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D. C. Circuit issued a stay delaying the implementation of a rule that will require farmers to estimate and report emissions from animal waste. Farmers will now have until at least May 1, 2018 before they are required to report their emissions to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Last April, the D.C. Circuit invalidated a rule that exempted livestock operations from reporting emissions of more than 100 pounds per day of either ammonia or hydrogen sulfide under CERCLA. Prior to the court’s decision, only animal feeding operations that qualified as concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, were required to report under the emissions reporting rule. Following the effective date of the new rule, an estimated 63,000 small- and medium-sized farms will also be required to estimate and report their emissions.

This is the third stay that the D.C. Circuit has issued at EPA’s request. EPA needs the additional time to inform farmers about the pending rule, provide guidance on calculating emissions, and finalize a reporting form specifically tailored to farmers. It is especially important that farmers understand their obligations under this new rule because, once the court issues the mandate, farmers that fail to report could face fines and suits from citizen groups alleging noncompliance.

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.

We previously discussed the D.C. Circuit’s decision in Waterkeeper Alliance v. EPA, 853 F.3d, to strike down EPA’s regulation that exempted farms from air pollution reporting requirements for releases of hazardous substances from animal wastes. In October 2017, EPA petitioned the D.C. Circuit to stay the mandate in that case. On November 22, the D.C. Circuit granted EPA’s motion to stay the mandate until January 22, 2018.

The stay gives farmers an additional two months before they have to start reporting. It also provides an opportunity for farmers to familiarize themselves with EPA’s new guidance which helps farmers calculate emissions from beef, dairy, equine, swine and poultry operations.