The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing a new rule that would require concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) to submit certain operational information to the EPA. Such information would include the size of the farm and the total available land application area for the CAFO. The reporting requirements are the result of a settlement agreement reached between the EPA and the Natural Resources Defense Council, Waterkeeper Alliance, and the Sierra Club.
The proposed rule is unique in that it proposes two different options for how CAFOs would be required to submit the information. Under the first option, all CAFOs, regardless of size, would be required to submit the requested information to the EPA. The EPA estimates that approximately 20,000 CAFOs would be subject to reporting under this option. Individual states can submit the information directly to the EPA if the information has already been gathered under a state regulatory program. If the state does not have the information or chooses not to submit it, the EPA will request that individual CAFOs respond directly to the request.
Under the second option, only those CAFOs in focus watersheds that have water quality concerns would be required to report information to the EPA. A focus watershed is would be identified on a case-by-case basis based upon: vulnerable ecosystems, proximity of drinking water source supply, watersheds with high recreational value, high densities of animals, patterns of vulnerable soils, and other factors.
The EPA is requesting public comment on both options as well as alternative approaches to gather information. The proposed rule will be open for public comment for 60 days following publication in the Federal Register, which occurred today. The EPA plans to take final action on this proposal by July 2012.
By Todd J. Janzen