The National Pork Producers Council has filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s requirement for livestock farms to file reports under the Environmental Protection and Community Right To Know Act. NPPC also alleges 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 making phone calls to their state and local emergency response authorities, then filing a written notification of emission estimates.
The rule goes into effect Jan. 20, the first day of the Obama administration. Farms that fail to comply will face penalties of $25,000 per day.
NPPC President Bryan Black, a pork producer from Canal Winchester, Ohio, explained why NPPC was making the effort to stop the EPA effort. “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, but it actively engaged in efforts that undermined the ability of farmers to comply with this new, stringent rule.”
NPPC cited efforts that hamper producer compliance. “EPA told state officials not to accept reports and posted false and out-of-data information on its Web site,” says a NPPC news release. 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.