The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) has filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to require livestock farms to file reports under the Environmental Protection and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA).
NPPC is also charging that EPA violated the due process rights of farmers by failing to develop an adequate system to accept the reports, making it impossible to comply with the law.
In a rulemaking issued Dec. 18, EPA announced that large livestock farms would be required to file mandatory reports on air emissions by first making phone calls to their local and state emergency response authorities, then by filing a written notification of emissions estimates.
Farms that fail to file will face penalties of $25,000 per day. The ruling becomes effective today, Jan. 20, 2009, the first day of the Obama administration.
“In sticking the agricultural community with this unworkable rule, 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, it also actively engaged in efforts that undermined the ability of farmers to comply with this new, stringent rule,” says NPPC President Bryan Black.
Among those efforts, EPA told state officials not to accept reports and provided false and out-of-date information on filing reports on its Web site.
Also, the agency didn’t 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 its lawsuit filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, NPPC challenges EPA’s decision to exclude livestock operations from the EPCRA agriculture exemption and asks the court to enjoin EPA from enforcement until the agency develops a system that will allow producers to comply.