Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler signed a rule Monday exempting farmers from reporting emissions produced by “animal waste,” the EPA announced in a Tuesday release.
The new rule aligns regulations with the Fair Agricultural Reporting Method (FARM) Act signed by President Donald Trump on March 23.
The FARM Act amendment and subsequent changes in EPA rules came in response to a ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The court vacated a 2008 exemption on April 11, 2017 for reporting “hazardous substances” released from animal waste, according to the EPA. (RELATED: Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler Addresses The EPA)
“EPA is taking action to reflect Congress’s direction in the FARM Act that removed an undue reporting burden on American agriculture,” Wheeler said in a statement. “EPA is committed to providing regulatory clarity and certainty to farmers and ranchers — hardworking Americans invested in conserving the land and environment.”
Members of the agriculture industry supported the FARM Act amendment while pointing out that reporting emissions from animal manure and other bodily functions is impractical and that the danger from the emissions is overstated.
“Routine emissions from hog manure do not constitute a ‘hazardous’ emergency that requires the Coast Guard to activate a national cleanup response,” National Pork Producers Council President Ken Maschhoff said in a February statement on the amendment. “Frankly, the court created a problem where none existed.”
Methane emissions, especially from cattle, on farms are often cited by environmentalists as a significant factor in climate change. Hundreds of climate and health experts wrote the World Health Organization in May 2017 urging action against “industrial animal farming” for its role in climate change, inhumane treatment of animals and use of antibiotics that create stronger diseases over time.
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