Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons scored a win for farmers when the Environmental Protection Agency, after the senators’ request, agreed to seek additional time from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals so that the agency can provide poultry and other livestock farmers with clear guidance and sufficient time to meet new reporting requirements.
The April 2017 decision in Waterkeeper Alliance vs. EPA voided EPA’s 2008 rule that limited the number of animal agriculture operations needing to report their air emissions under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act and the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act. Under the court’s decision, the reporting requirements were set to begin as soon as Jan. 22.
However, EPA has been slow to issue guidance on this matter and, as the senators noted in a letter requesting the delay, the guidance that has been provided was “confusing and unhelpful.” After hearing from constituents on this matter, the senators urged EPA to request a delay from the court so the agency has more time to provide farmers with the tools and information they need to fully understand their obligation and avoid legal liability for untimely or inaccurate reporting. As part of its filing with the court, EPA included an earlier bipartisan letter led by Carper and Coons advocating on behalf of farmers and raising concerns about EPA’s proposed guidance.
In the letter sent to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, the senators wrote, “Less than a week before reporting requirements may begin, EPA is just now producing new guidance documents and working with the Administration to make them public, and little meaningful progress has been made in conducting outreach on this issue…our constituents deserve much better than this.”