Late last week, EPA announced that certain US Dairy Farms are no longer exempt from ammonia and hydrogen sulfide emissions reporting requirements. The new reporting deadline for farms that exceed emissions threshold is November 15, 2017.
On April 11, 2017, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit struck down EPA rules issued in December 2008 exempting dairy and livestock farms from air emissions reporting requirements. All such operations were exempted from reporting emissions to the National Response Center (NRC) under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), and all but Large CAFOs were exempted from reporting emissions to local authorities under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA).
What if I signed the compliance agreement?
The April ruling DOES NOT AFFECT farms that signed the 2005 Air Emissions Compliance Agreement and Final Order (Agreement), and who are still in compliance with it: they are not required to report until EPA provides lookup charts for estimating emissions based on the air emissions monitoring study. There are 162 farms in New York State that are covered under this Agreement.
Reporting – A Possible Risk Management Decision
While EPA has not undertaken broad enforcement measures for CERCLA and EPCRA reporting by dairy and livestock operations, many NYS dairy farmers will recall discussions in the early 2000’s about some larger US farms being sued by environmental groups for failing to report emissions to local, state and federal authorities under the statutes.
How to decide if a report is needed?
For all other dairy, livestock, and poultry operations, the EPA released new information on October 26, 2017 for how to estimate emissions in order to determine if the reporting threshold is triggered and report emissions if necessary to comply with the exemption rollback (https://www.epa.gov/epcra/cercla-and-epcra-reporting-requirements-air-releases-hazardous-substances-animal-waste-farms#crr). The reporting deadline is November 15, 2017 for farms that exceed the reporting threshold of 100 pounds total of either ammonia or hydrogen sulfide in ANY 24-hr period at least ONCE annually. The website provides reporting forms and instructions.
In a conference call with EPA staff on 10-31-17, it was reconfirmed that farms may use their best professional judgment to select tools or methods to make a good faith estimate of emissions, including the dairy specific tool developed by PRO-DAIRY (Gooch and Czymmek, 2009), based on a University of Nebraska worksheet that covered dairy, swine and beef. The PRO-DAIRY worksheet is being updated and should be posted by November 3, 2017. In addition, the EPA website provides the original University of Nebraska Ammonia Loss Estimation Worksheet as well as a dairy report worksheet based on research from Texas that can be used to estimate emissions. Farms that determine a report is not necessary should retain a copy of the worksheet or method used to make that determination in case the question is raised at a later date.