EPA withdrew its proposed Clean Water (CWA) Section 308 Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) Reporting Rule last week. The rule, which was proposed as part of a settlement reached with environmental petitioners, would have required CAFOs to report extensive information about their operations, including the address of their production area, the acres available for land application of manure, the type and number of animals and contact information. This information would have been made available on the Agency’s website and non-compliance would resulted in fines of up to $37,500 per day.
Speaking after the decision, the president of the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) RC Hunt said: “As we have consistently stated, the proposed rule was the result of a sweetheart settlement between EPA and environmentalists, which would have provided no public health protection.
“It would have been a duplicative and burdensome paperwork exercise for producers and clearly was an effort to undermine court decisions that said producers who do not discharge into waterways do not need a CWA permit.”
President of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) JD Alexander also welcomed the move, stating that the NCBA’s biggest concern had been the likelihood that it would have put the nation’s food system at increased risk from terrorist attacks by giving "extremists" the opportunity to access sensitive information.
“We encourage the agency to redirect its focus to working with states and other partners to attain already publicly available information that would allow them to work towards their goal of improved water quality. This can be done in a way that does not put our food system at increased risk,” he said.
The National Chicken Council said it was “pleased that EPA recognised the burden the proposed rule would place on the industry”.
The proposed rule was prompted by a May 2010 settlement agreement that EPA entered into with the Natural Resources Defense Council, Waterkeeper Alliance and the Sierra Club. Announcing its decision to reject the law, EPA said it will collect CAFO data using existing sources of information, in order to ensure CAFOs are implementing practices that protect water quality.