Ranchers Without Guidance On How to Report Air Emissions

Livestock operators will soon be required to report hazardous air releases from their animals.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, if an operation emits more than 100 pounds of air pollutants in 24 hours a farmer would have to comply and report. But there has not been clarity or guidance announced on how to know if that limit is reached, according to the Iowa Cattlemen's Association (ICA).

A waiver announced last month gave a little time to the industry but ends January 22, 2018.

In 2008, the EPA announced livestock were exempt from reporting livestock emissions in two statutes: the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA). But, in spring of this year, a D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals announced that rule was no longer effective.

ICA Government and Regulatory Affairs Manager JanLee Rowlett says there's a lot unknown about how the rule would affect livestock.

They aren't even sure how the EPA will track how much greenhouse gasses cattle emit, "That's one of our biggest questions, producers, there's not enough guidance out there for them to make this determination, so what is it that EPA is going to use to determine if someone is in violation if it comes to that point? They've said this won't be an enforcement priority for the agency, so that gives us a little bit of comfort. But also know that they still have the authority to do that if things were to change."

In the deadline extension release, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt says, “EPA is committed to providing America’s farmers and ranchers – people committed to conserving the land and the environment- the clarity needed in meeting their reporting obligations required by law.”

The release also states that under the Trump Administration, EPA sought this additional time in order to provide compliance assistance to farmers, update its guidance, and develop a more-streamlined reporting form.

Rowlett adds they are also concerned about how much private information will be released to the public in the EPA database.

For now, she advises people not to report yet. Instead, they should use the time to figure out if a farm reaches the 100 pound threshold or not.

But Thursday and Friday this week, the Iowa Cattlemen's Association is hosting its annual meeting in Ames. Rowlett says air emissions is one of the topics covered as they set policy for the next year.