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Livestock organizations seek fix to reporting air releases from animal waste

A recent court decision voided animal agriculture exemptions under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, which means some livestock operations could soon be required to report emissions that meet or exceed 100 pounds of ammonia or hydrogen sulfide within a 24-hour period. Forum News Service file photo

BISMARCK—Confusion abounds over the possibility of hazardous emissions reporting requirements covering air releases from animal waste for livestock producers.

A recent court decision voided animal agriculture exemptions under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, which means some livestock operations could soon be required to report emissions that meet or exceed 100 pounds of ammonia or hydrogen sulfide within a 24-hour period. But many are unsure how to determine whether the law would apply to their operations.

The purpose of the law requiring reporting was to help federal, state and local officials evaluate the need for an emergency response.

Previously, only large concentrated animal feeding operations were subject to the requirement, according to the North Dakota Department of Agriculture. With the court decision, North Dakota Stockmen's Association Executive Director Julie Ellingson said, by some analyses, even those with just a couple hundred head could meet thresholds for reporting to the National Response Center.

"This is not something livestock producers normally measure," said Ellingson, adding there aren't many tools available to do so.

"There is confusion with no real clarity on how one would assess if they are required to report," Goehring said.

On its website, the EPA says it "recognizes that it will be challenging for farmers to report releases from animal wastes because there is no generally accepted methodology for estimating emission quantities at this time."

The judicial mandate was to be implemented Monday, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency filed a motion on Friday to delay it for 90 days. Ellingson said most livestock producers probably weren't even aware of the potential reporting requirements. Producers should not start reporting until the mandate is issued.

Producers can visit www.epa.gov/animalwaste to look at one model to help determine if they are affected by the proposed reporting rules.

Ellingson said she thinks the general consensus among regulators is that this reporting is unnecessary. She said the Stockmen's Association has been seeking a legislative correction for some time.

"And we need one soon," she said.

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