The National Pork Producers Council has filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the US Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to require livestock farms to file reports under the Environmental Protection and Community Right To Know Act (EPCRA).
NPPC also is alleging that EPA violated the due process rights of farmers by failing to develop an adequate system to accept the reports, making compliance with the law impossible.
Under a rulemaking issued Dec. 18, EPA decided that large livestock farms would be required to file mandatory reports on air emissions by first making phone calls to their state and local emergency response authorities, then by filing a written notification of emissions estimates. Farms that fail to comply will face penalties of $25,000 per day. The rule goes into effect Jan. 20, 2009, the first day of the Obama administration.
Undermining the ability of farmers
“In sticking the agricultural community with this unworkable rule,” said NPPC President Bryan Black, a pork producer from Canal Winchester, Ohio, “EPA not only failed to provide any guidance to farmers on compliance with the new regulation or develop an adequate system to handle the volume of reports that would be filed, but it actively engaged in efforts that undermined the ability of farmers to comply with this new, stringent rule.”
Among those efforts, EPA told state officials not to accept reports and provided on its Web site false and out-of-date information on filing reports. Additionally, the agency did not issue guidance for complying with the rule until 4:30 p.m. Jan. 16 – the last business day before the filing deadline – giving America’s 67,000 pork producers and hundreds of thousands of other livestock farmers only 30 minutes to receive, read and interpret the guidance and to develop and file the appropriate emissions report.
In the lawsuit it filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, NPPC is challenging EPA’s decision to exclude livestock operations from the EPCRA agriculture exemption and asking the court to enjoin EPA from enforcing the rule until the agency develops a system that will allow producers to comply.