Sen. Tom Carper led all Environment and Public Works Committee minority members in a Dec. 15 letter to Environmental Protection Agency Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler calling for the agency to reverse course on a proposal that would exempt farms from reporting requirements for hazardous air emissions from animal waste under the Emergency Planning Community Right to Know Act.
In the letter, the senators noted that EPA lacks the legal basis to disregard key elements of EPCRA. The law was enacted in 1986 to help authorities track airborne health hazards, deploy emergency response efforts to mitigate impacts on public safety and provide citizens with information about potential chemical hazards in their communities.
“EPA is required to faithfully execute the laws as passed by Congress,” the senators wrote. “EPA’s proposed rule vastly exceeds EPA’s statutory authority and countermands unambiguous Congressional intent. EPA’s proposed interpretation of reporting requirements for hazardous air emissions from animal waste relies on a statutory interpretation that was considered, and specifically rejected by Congress, when it enacted the FARM Act into law. EPA should withdraw this proposed rule and faithfully execute and enforce EPCRA and CERCLA reporting requirements consistent with the laws passed by Congress.”
Earlier this year, President Donald Trump signed the Fair Agricultural Reporting Method Act into law, exempting animal waste air emissions on farms from reporting requirements under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, or the Superfund law. Congress chose to leave in place reporting requirements under EPCRA. Despite Congress’s express desire, on Nov. 14, Wheeler proposed to extend the hazardous air emission exemption for farms to ECPRA, effectively violating congressional intent of keeping the law’s reporting requirements intact.
The letter was also signed by Sens. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland; Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont; Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island; Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon; Cory Booker, D-New Jersey; Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts; Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois; Chris Van Hollen, D-Illinois; and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York.
The senators submitted this letter Dec. 14 as a public comment at the proposal’s docket under EPA-HQ-OLEM-2018-0318. A copy of the letter and its appendices can be found at bit.ly/2EEABsk.