EPA signs off on rule exempting farmers from reporting emissions

EPA signs off on rule exempting farmers from reporting emissions
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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Tuesday that it is implementing recently passed legislation that exempts farmers from having to report emissions derived from animal waste and other pollutants.

The final rule, signed by EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler on Monday, codifies the most recent version of the FARM Act, which exempted many farmers from reporting air releases of hazardous substances from animal waste. 

Signed into law in March, the act made changes to Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) that the bill supporters said regulated emissions from farms much like it regulated Superfund sites, which they call a far too lofty request.

Lawmakers added the provision to the FARM ACT after a Supreme Court decision in 2008 that struck down an Bush-era EPA rule that tried to exempt farmers from the same reporting requirements.

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“EPA is taking action to reflect Congress’s direction in the FARM Act that removed an undue reporting burden on American agriculture,” said Wheeler in a statement. “EPA is committed to providing regulatory clarity and certainty to farmers and ranchers — hardworking Americans invested in conserving the land and environment.”

Sen. Deb FischerDebra (Deb) Strobel FischerCook Political Report shifts three Senate races toward Republicans Kavanaugh fight puts Senate on edge of precipice ACLU's M in anti-Kavanaugh ads won't target Flake, Collins MORE (R-Neb.), a major supporter of the provision in the FARM Act, called the regulatory change a "relief" for farmers.

“Over the years, we’ve seen too many harmful federal regulations make it harder for Nebraska agriculture producers to feed the world,” Fischer said in a statement. “That’s why I worked to pass legislation exempting farmers and ranchers from reporting requirements meant for toxic superfund sites. I thank Acting Administrator Wheeler for signing this final rule to implement the law that will provide our nation’s producers with the relief they deserve.”

Environmentalists argued against the provision, saying that farmers should have to take responsibility for the emissions coming from their livestock and crops. U.S. cattle and their byproducts are a major source of the greenhouse gas methane.