CERCLA / EPCRA Update
TO: NCBA Officers, State & Breed Affiliates
FROM: Scott Yager, Chief Environmental Counsel
DATE: Wednesday, February 14, 2018
SUBJECT: Bipartisan FARM Act Introduced yesterday with Ten Republicans and Ten Democrats
On Tuesday, February 13, 2018, twenty US Senators introduced the bipartisan Fair Agricultural Reporting Method Act (“FARM Act”, S. 2421) to relieve farmers and ranchers of burdensome reporting requirements under CERCLA – a law originally passed in 1980 to provide for the cleanup of hazardous waste. The effort was led by Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.). The support of Senators Fischer and Donnelly from the beginning shows that relief from reporting requirements is truly a bipartisan issue, providing a foundation for further support from both sides of the aisle.
Prior to introduction, the FARM Act gained the support of eighteen more Senators in addition to Fischer and Donnelly -- John Barrasso (R-Wyo., Chairman, Environment & Public Works Committee), Tom Carper (D-Del., Ranking Member, Environment & Public Works Committee), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), and Bob Casey (D-Penn.). Late yesterday, 2 more Democratic Senators joined as cosponsors: Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL). With twelve Democratic Senators supporting the legislation, it sends a powerful message that our bill can break a filibuster – one of the big obstacles to passing a bill through the US Senate. Our coalition of livestock groups worked hard to build support on both sides of the aisle, because a strong introduction is a necessary first step to a big win. If your US Senator is on the list, please take a moment to thank them for their support.
An introduction this successful would not have been possible without the hard work of our affiliates and members, and we extend a sincere thank you for every call, letter, and email you made to make this issue a top priority on Capitol Hill in recent weeks. But there’s still plenty of work to be done.
As you know, the introduction of a bill is only the beginning. Now is the time to take advantage of our momentum, and carry this legislation to the finish line. We are calling on you to activate your grassroots – send letters, call offices, send emails – requesting other senators to support the FARM Act and telling House Members to support a similar legislative fix. Talk to your members, and ask them to do the same. We are working hard to ensure that every Senator and House Member knows about this burdensome requirement, but the most impact will come from ranchers at home. Every legislator needs to know that their producers will be negatively affected by these requirements. And remember – CERCLA reporting requirements impact everyone: grain-fed and pasture-based operations. If Congress fails to act before May 1st, this requirement will impact ranches that have never been subject to federal environmental regulations.
The following materials are for your outreach to legislators and their staff:
We stood up this website with the help of our coalition colleagues. It is a central hub we are using to educate our members on this important issue. I encourage you to spread the website around and use it in your own outreach materials to members. Through the website, you can arm your members with the information they need to do grassroots outreach to Congress. We are working on updating the website to reflect the latest information, including the bill introduction, and other outreach tools.
TO: NCBA Officers, State and Breed Affiliates
FROM: Scott Yager, NCBA Chief Environmental Counsel
DATE: January 18, 2018
SUBJECT: CERCLA/EPCRA Reporting for Cattle Operations
As January 22nd nears, I’m providing an update on our progress related to CERCLA and EPCRA reporting requirements for cattle producers. To recap, in April 2017, the DC Circuit court determined that EPA did not have the authority to exempt agriculture from these reporting requirements, thus vacating an exemption that was on the books for 10 years. NCBA pursued a number of potential solutions, and is hopeful for a long-term fix. However, with the deadline approaching, I want to ensure that every member has access to compliance materials, should they determine that they are required to report.
When the court issues the mandate (the order that will officially vacate the exemption), NCBA will post compliance documents on its webpage. While this could happen as early as next Monday, Jan. 22nd, nothing will be official until the court actually issues the mandate on paper, which could take additional days. Upon the court issuing the mandate, NCBA will provide members with step-by-step instructions to complete the reporting process, in addition to a one-page form that may be used by producers to complete the written report requirement. These documents are not currently available, because we don’t want members to report until they are required to do so.
Additionally, you can access the EPA’s EPCRA guidnce and CERCLA compliance information by going to www.EPA.gov/animalwaste. EPA is trying to assist livestock operations as reporting begins. Remember, EPA is trying to be helpful to us on this issue. I’m attaching EPA’s 2 page fact-sheet that gives an overview of the issue and reporting instructions.
Language defunding EPA’s enforcement of CERCLA and EPCRA reporting is included in the House appropriations package that passed the House in September. Currently, Congress is working on a short Continuing Resolution (CR) that will fund the government until mid-February. NCBA and other livestock associations are pushing hard for the inclusion of the House Appropriations language in a final bill. Last week, a letter was sent to House leadership with 87 signatures from Republican and Democratic Representatives (attached). This is a strong showing of Congressional support, and I thank those of you who helped get Members signed on. The letter outlines the importance of maintaining the House language in a final bill. This language will defund EPA enforcement of reporting requirements. While it is a good start, it does not stop environmental groups from bringing citizen suits – NCBA’s primary concern.
Because citizen suits cannot be addressed through Appropriations, we are working hard to get standalone legislation introduced as soon as possible. To that end, I’ve reached out to a number of you in states with “gettable” Democratic Senators. If you received an email from me yesterday, please read it and let me know if you can help with the grassroots outreach. In short, the draft legislation exempts farms from reporting air emissions from animal waste under both CERCLA and EPCRA. While we are working hard in DC, messages are much louder when they come directly from the constituency. We urge you to contact your Senators and Representatives directly so they understand the true impact of this requirement. We estimate that over 60,000 cattle producers will be subject to these requirements, and over 200,000 farms across the country.
On Tuesday, NCBA kicked off a Public Relations campaign to highlight the absurdity of the reporting requirement. Our goal is to get the attention of media outlets, who will write stories that get the attention of Members of Congress and staff on the hill. So far, so good. Much of Tuesday was spent fielding calls from reporters. The press release is also getting attention on Capitol Hill and adding fuel to our legislative effort.
To officially kick off the campaign, NCBA released a video to show the contrast between a true Superfund site and a cattle operation. Feel free to use this video in your outreach materials.
Additionally, NCBA has joined with other livestock associations to create a website dedicated to our grassroots campaign – FreedomToFarm.com. Feel free to use the website in your outreach materials for membership and Congress. The website will be updated continually as bill language is finalized and introduced.
NCBA is working hard to prevent this burdensome requirement from negatively effecting cattle producers. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to call me or email me with any questions.
Chief Environmental Counsel
National Cattlemen's Beef Association
Center for Public Policy