Unless Congress acts quickly on a Senate bill to exempt most farms and ranches from unnecessary reporting of routine air emissions from animals and their manure, nearly 200,000 farms and ranches across the country could face the threat of activist lawsuits, the American Farm Bureau Federation is warning.
The Fair Agricultural Reporting Method (FARM) Act (S. 2421) would clarify that normal emissions from farm animals and their manure are not reportable under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), which requires facilities to report releases of hazardous substances that exceed certain threshold quantities within a 24-hour period.
Both the Bush and Obama administrations supported a rule exempting most farms from the need to report low-level emissions, but activist groups successfully blocked the rule last year at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The court has stayed its April 2017 decision multiple times, with the latest stay slated to expire on May 1.
As the FARM Act makes clear, “Congress did not intend for emergency air emission reporting to apply to day-to-day practices on agricultural operations, recognizing that low-level, continuous emissions of ammonia and hydrogen sulfide from livestock are a part of everyday life,” AFBF President Zippy Duvall noted in a recent letter to the bill’s cosponsors.