Starting Nov. 15, Alabama farmers may be required to report the release of ammonia and hydrogen sulfide from their farms under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).
This new requirement stems from an April 2017 court decision that struck down a rule exempting farms from reporting the releases. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit sided with a number of environmental groups that challenged the validity of the final rule including the exemption, which had been in place since December 2008.
“The Alabama Farmers Federation believes these laws were originally intended to address releases of air pollutants from industrial facilities that pose an immediate threat to the public,” said Guy Hall, director of the Federation’s dairy, pork and poultry divisions. “Unfortunately, the courts have ruled otherwise, and farms are now subject to the rule. We strongly disagree with this interpretation and will continue to work toward a positive outcome for our farmers.”
Unless the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit takes further action, livestock facilities will be required to report ammonia and hydrogen sulfide emissions from animal waste if the releases exceed the threshold of 100 pounds in 24 hours.
Federation staff members are working with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management and American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) to minimize the negative impacts of this rule on animal agriculture.
Ag groups that were part of the original litigation have petitioned the court for a stay on the reporting requirements until Jan. 2018.
Additionally, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asked the court to delay the effective date so they can fully develop guidance materials to help farmers understand the reporting obligations.