Protect the Public's Right to Know! - Waterkeeper

Protect the Public’s Right to Know!

By: Kelly Foster

citizen complaints

Hazardous pollution released by densely concentrated, industrial-scale livestock operations can be very dangerous for people, even deadly, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) keeps trying to find ways to help this powerful industry hide its pollution from the public and emergency responders. Waterkeeper Alliance and partners are continuing our decade-long fight for the public’s right to know when large Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) release large volumes of toxic pollutants near their homes, businesses, and schools, and we need your help.

Please join us in speaking out against EPA’s proposed rule to exempt CAFOs from reporting their dangerous pollution by commenting by December 14, 2018.

On November 14, 2018, EPA published a proposed rule that would exempt CAFOs from having to disclose when they release “extremely hazardous substances” into the air – no matter how much is released or how dangerous the toxic pollution is to their neighbors. The proposed rule would amend the notification regulations under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) to create a total exemption for all air emissions of “extremely hazardous substances,” like ammonia and hydrogen sulfide, from the massive amounts of animal waste produced at the nation’s largest CAFOs.

The proposed rule is the latest attempt by EPA to shield the CAFO industry from public scrutiny and, ultimately, from its responsibility to avoid doing harm to others. It is being proposed despite a lawsuit that Waterkeeper Alliance and partners won in April 2017, in which the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a 2008 EPA rule exempting CAFOs from reporting hazardous air releases under EPCRA and another federal law was illegal.  

A public comment period is now open on EPA’s proposed rule through December 14, 2018. This is a dangerous, irresponsible and illegal proposal, and this is your opportunity to tell EPA that enough is enough – when this industry releases hazardous pollution, people have the right to know when, where and how much.  Period.

Here is a template to get you started:

I am writing because I object to your proposed rule to amend the release notification regulations under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) to add a reporting exemption for air emissions from Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). I also object to EPA’s proposal to add definitions of ‘‘animal waste’’ and ‘‘farm’’ that would include CAFOs in the proposed EPCRA exemption regulation.  

It is already the case that small farms that generate animal waste do not need to report the release of “extremely hazardous substances.” It is only large CAFOs that can release sufficient volumes of these toxic pollutants, like ammonia and hydrogen sulfide, that exceed the amounts triggering the reporting requirements. Air emissions of large quantities of “extremely hazardous substances” can be very dangerous, and are required to be reported under EPCRA. EPA cannot change the EPCRA statute using rulemaking.

[Add Information on Impacts and Concerns Here: If you or your community have been directly harmed by the CAFO industry’s failure to report and control pollution, this is a good opportunity for you to tell EPA about the impacts and why the required reporting of this pollution is important to you].


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