CERCLA - Permanent Fix Passed in the 2018 Omnibus Spending Bill
H.R. 1625, the fiscal year 2018 omnibus spending bill that was signed into law on Friday included a permanent fix for CERCLA reporting requirements for farmers and ranchers.
H.R. 1625 included language from S. 2421, the Fair Agricultural Reporting Methods (FARM) Act which amended Section 103 of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) to clarify that air emissions from animal waste at a farm are not applicable under this act and thus farmers do not need to report their emissions.
CERCLA and the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA) require facilities to report releases of hazardous substances that are equal to or greater than their reportable quantities (RQ) within any 24-hour period.
On December 18, 2008, EPA published a final rule that exempted most farms from certain release reporting requirements in CERCLA and EPCRA. Specifically, the rule exempted farms releasing hazardous substances (ammonia or hydrogen sulfide) from animal waste to the air above threshold levels from reporting under CERCLA. For EPCRA reporting, the rule exempted reporting of such releases if the farm had fewer animals than a large concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO).
In short, all farms were relieved from reporting hazardous substance air releases from animal waste under CERCLA, and only large CAFOs were subject to EPCRA reporting.
A number of citizen groups challenged the validity of the final rule in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. On April 11, 2017, the Court struck down the final rule, eliminating the reporting exemptions for farms.
With H.R. 1625 being signed into law, farmers and ranchers do not need to report the air emissions from animal waste at their farms under CERCLA.