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December 14, 2018


The Honorable Andrew Wheeler
Acting Administrator
Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20460

 

Re: Docket No. EPA–HQ–OLEM–2018–0318 (Emergency Release Notification Regulations: Reporting Exemption for Air Emissions from Animal Waste at Farms; Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act)
Dear Mr. Wheeler:


Pennsylvania Farm Bureau (PFB) wishes to offer its comments on the Agency’s proposed rulemaking, “Emergency Release Notification Regulations: Reporting Exemption for Air Emissions from Animal Waste at Farms; Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act.” PFB is a general farm organization, made up of more than 62,000 members. Since 1950, PFB has provided support, advocacy and informational and professional services for Pennsylvania agriculture and farm families, and we wish to express our firm support for the Agency’s proposal to codify the recently-passed legislation on notification requirements for animal waste from farms under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) Section 304.


As you are aware, in 2008, the Agency had finalized a rule to clarify that farms were exempt from the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) reporting and smaller farming operations were exempt from EPCRA reporting, given that low-level livestock emissions are not among the "releases" that Congress intended to target with these laws. Unfortunately, in April 2017, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the 2008 exemption in response to a 2009 lawsuit, putting nearly 200,000 farms under the regulatory reporting authorities enshrined in CERCLA and EPCRA. At its inception, this legal action had led to the immediate generation of numerous EPCRA reports pertaining to the odor emanating from manure on large regulated livestock operations. However, the new information had the opposite of its intended effect, as it hampered, rather than assisted, local emergency response efforts. Fortunately, this proposal, together with the recently enacted FARM Act, reaffirms and codifies the Agency’s longstanding view that odor emissions from the natural breakdown of livestock manure do not constitute an emergency release pursuant to the EPCRA laws.


In closing, PFB thanks the Agency for its efforts on this important proposal and recommends its swift adoption as a final rule.


Sincerely,
Grant R. Gulibon
Director, Regulatory Affairs