EPCRA Emissions Rule for Livestock and Poultry

EPCRA Emissions Rule for Livestock and Poultry

General Information on the Ruling

On December 18, 2008, the US EPA published a final rule that clarified which livestock facilities must report air emissions from their facilities. Animal agriculture was granted an administrative exemption from reporting air emissions that normally occur from raising farm animals under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).

Additionally, farms that are not large Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) according to NPDES permitting rules, are exempt from reporting under the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA). Without this exemption, much more wide-spread and rigorous reporting would be required.

CERCLA requires that the person in charge of a facility must notify the federal government whenever there is a known release of a hazardous substance; EPCRA requires that notice be given to state and local emergency responders.

These regulations were originally established to ensure that factories and industrial facilities reported spills and accidental releases so that first responders and state regulatory authorities could respond in a timely fashion and be better informed. It was widely assumed that these laws did not apply to animal agriculture until a few years ago, when court decisions found no basis for this assumption in the existing law.

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. Previous drafts of the rule had essentially created a complete exemption for reporting air emissions from animal agriculture, so this rule came as a complete surprise to most producers, industry representatives, and those who advise producers.

The rule clarifying the limited exemption is effective on January 20, 2009 and is in the public record. 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.

Key Points for those Operations Affected

  • While required to report emissions, there is no feasible emergency response to these emissions and no response is expected.
  • Once appropriate contacts are made and a continuous release report' is filed, additional required actions should be limited to when changes in the operation result in significant increases in emissions.

Follow these steps:

  1. Review the Decision Tree.(pdf)
  2. Review the FAQ's on the Rule
  3. Determine your emissions by using an estimator: See examples of Ammonia emission estimates for a 5,000 head swine finisher and a 1,000 head beef feedlot. | Ammonia emissions estimator daily version.
  4. If you emit more than 100 lbs per day, submit an EPCRA report. How to submit an EPCRA report.

Additional Resources

University of Nebraska Extension Archived Webinar on the EPCRA rule, from January 20, 2009 (1 hr)

EPA Factsheet on the rule

Nebraska Cattlemen members can contact their association for help with this requirement. They have forms set up specifically for Nebraska producers. Contact them directly by calling (402) 475-2333.

NPPC Factsheet on CERCLA/EPCRA rule

Information from the Livestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Center Air Quality team about this rule. Determining responsibility, estimating emissions, and making a report.

This page was developed by Chris Henry and Rick Stowell and is maintained by the Air Quality Team at the University of Nebraska.

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