Resources for livestock farms on EPA air emissions reporting requirements effective January 22

What farms need to know and what steps to follow to report air emissions from animal waste.

Update: On February 1, 2018, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals granted EPA’s motion to further stay issuance of the mandate until May 1, 2018. Farms with continuous releases do not have to make their initial continuous release notification until the DC Circuit Court of Appeals issues its order, or mandate, enforcing the Court’s opinion of April 11, 2017.  The court is expected to issue the mandate on May 1, 2018. No reporting is necessary until the mandate is issued. 

Due to a recent court decision, some livestock farms in Michigan and across the United States may be required to report hazardous substance air emissions from manure (i.e. ammonia and hydrogen sulfide). The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) are two environmental laws that require the reporting of a hazardous substance that exceeds a reportable quantity within a 24-hour period. This allows for local, state and federal officials to determine the need for an emergency response within the community in order to lessen or mitigate the effects of the release.

In the past, livestock farms were exempt from reporting air emissions from manure under CERCLA, and only large concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) were subject to reporting through EPCRA. In April of 2017, EPA’s ruling was struck down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit when citizen groups challenged the validity of the ruling. Consequently, farms are no longer exempt from the reporting requirements. Due to the Court’s ruling, livestock farms that release certain amounts of hazardous substances will be required to report these air emissions as early as January 22, 2018. Through EPA’s interpretation of the ruling, farms that use substances in “routine agricultural operations” are excluded from reporting under EPCRA (this includes routine operations on farms and animal feeding operations).

Ammonia and hydrogen sulfide are substances that are commonly released on livestock farms that require reporting under CERLCA if released in amounts greater than or equal to their reportable quantity of 100 pounds within a 24-hour period. To assist in determining if a livestock farm is required to report, EPA has resources available on its website (www.epa.gov/animalwaste) to estimate air emission. There are also other models for estimating emissions. Farms may estimate emissions by relying on 1) past release data, 2) engineering estimates, 3) personal knowledge of the facility’s operations and release history, and 5) best professional judgement. Michigan State University Extension recognizes that it will be challenging for farmers to estimate releases and that many factors may influence emissions such as geographic location, environmental conditions, general management practices, animal characteristics, and operating conditions.

How do farms report for CERCLA? – CERCLA Continuous Release Reporting Process

Step 1: Provide the National Response Center (NRC) with an initial continuous release notification by e-mail (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)) or by phone (1-800-424-8802). An owner or operator can send one e-mail notification for multiple farms.

The e-mail should identify that this is an initial continuous release notification and include:

  • Name of the farm
  • Location of the farm (i.e. name of city/town and state (NRC does not require an address; a generic location may be sufficient)
  • Name of hazardous substance released

Farms will receive an e-mail from the NRC with a single ID number (CR-ERNS) for the farm. The CR-ERNS number is needed on the follow-up report in Step 2.

Step 2: Within 30 days of notifying the NRC, farms need to submit an initial written notification to the EPA Regional Office. Use the Continuous Release Reporting Form.

US EPA Region 5 (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin)
James Entzminger
77 West Jackson Boulevard
Chicago, IL 60604-3507

Step 3: Submit a one-time follow-up report to the EPA Region 5 office after one year. If there are significant changes that results in a change in air emissions, additional reporting may be necessary.

Additional Resources:

  • Shelby Burlew, Michigan State University Extension: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 517-439-9301 Ext. 315
  • James Entzminger, US EPA Region 5 Office: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
  • E-mail comments or suggestions on guidance materials to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
  • Continuous Release Reporting Forms: www.epa.gov/animalwaste
  • National Response Center: 800-424-8802 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
  • Ashley Julien, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 517-281-9098

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