EPCRA Reporting: What Is It and Does It Apply To Animal Feeding Operations?

Animal Manure Management May 09, 2017 Print Friendly and PDF

logoUPDATE: In April, 2017 the DC Circuit Court invalidated the rule (discussed below) that exempted all animal ag farms from reporting under CERCLA and exempted most farms under EPCRA. This page will be updated as more information becomes available, but the resources section at the bottom will be useful in finding information on how to estimate emissions.

On December 18, 2008, the US EPA published a final rule that clarified which livestock facilities must report air emissions from their facilities. The two regulations covered by that publication include the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA). In 2009, a Mandatory Greenhouse Gas Reporting rule was also published and is covered in a separate page on this site.

Animal Agriculture Exempt from CERCLA

Animal agriculture was granted an administrative exemption from reporting air emissions that normally occur from raising farm animals under CERCLA.

EPCRA Reporting Applies to Large CAFOs

Farms that are not large Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) according to NPDES permitting rules, are exempt from reporting under EPCRA. Without this exemption, much more wide-spread and rigorous reporting would be required.

Passage of the 2008 final rule provides a legal exemption that applies to most livestock operations and clarifies where the exemption does not apply – essentially for large CAFOs under EPCRA. EPCRA requires that, whenever there is a known release of a hazardous substance, the person in charge of a facility must notify state and local emergency responders.

Which Emissions Must Be Reported?

Regulation of CAFO reporting is to be based upon ‘good faith emissions estimates’. A limited number of approaches for obtaining estimates are available. For most types of animal feeding operations, ammonia emissions are likely to trigger a reporting requirement, with reporting of hydrogen sulfide being much less likely.

When Must Animal Producers Comply With This New Rule?

The rule clarifying the limited exemption is in the public record and is effective on January 20, 2009. For large CAFOs, a common interpretation is that there will be increasing liability for not complying with EPCRA following this effective date. Failure to comply with this requirement could result in fines up to $25,000 per day.

In contradiction to information provided in the December, 2009 webcast presentation, a one-year follow-up report for EPCRA is not required from a [large] CAFO, provided that the state does not require such a report and no substantial changes have been implemented in the operation. This is because the one-year follow-up report is a CERCLA requirement, and animal agriculture is exempt from CERCLA. Those potentially affected by this rule are encouraged to follow-up with state authorities to determine if the state has a one-year follow-up reporting requirement and take the appropriate course of action.

Resources to Estimate Emissions and Send Reports for EPCRA

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.