CAFO Rule Extension is Inadequate
WASHINGTON - Many cattle producers may be forced to unnecessarily alter parts of their operations to meet as yet undetermined permitting requirements unless the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) changes implementation deadlines for its water rules. For some, the financial investment required could be substantial.
EPA plans to extend the Clean Water Act National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit application deadlines for confined animal feeding operations (CAFO) and implementation of nutrient management plan (NMP) deadlines to July 31, 2007. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) is calling the EPA’s decision “wholly inadequate.”
“The EPA has not yet promulgated a final rule, and they expect cattlemen to speculate on how to comply. That’s not fair,” says NCBA Director of Environmental Issues Tamara Thies. “There is much confusion and uncertainty about cattle producers’ responsibilities under the Act, and EPA needs to clarify for producers what is expected of them.”
NCBA comments submitted January 20 urged the EPA to consider a more reasonable deadline of “no sooner than one year after EPA approval of an individual CAFO’s NPDES permit, including an EPA-approved NMP.”
Such an approval is unlikely to occur prior to May 2009 or May 2010, depending on states’ ability to craft appropriate legislation and regulations addressing the many issues resulting from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in Water Keeper Alliance et al. v. EPA.
“The Court’s decision challenged portions of the Clean Water Act CAFO Rule and will require substantial modifications of some parts of the CAFO rule,” said Thies. “We believe cattle producers are owed the benefit of a final rule addressing the issues of this court decision before being forced to comply.”