Members of Congress Speak Out: Manure NOT a Superfund Issue
WASHINGTON - America’s family farmers and ranchers are garnering strong support in the House of Representatives for H.R. 4341. Introduced by Reps. Ralph Hall (R-Texas), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), this legislation would confirm that Congress never intended to regulate animal manure under the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA/Superfund regulations). As of today, 149 members of Congress have signed on in support of the bill with additional co-sponsors expected before the end of the week.
Members of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) strongly support H.R. 4341 and are fed up with falsehoods purported by anti-beef activists suggesting Superfund laws should be applied to manure from animal feeding, farming and ranching operations.
“Is your septic tank a Superfund site? To me, it’s just plain insulting to suggest naturally occurring manure on our family farm deems us a toxic Superfund site,” says NCBA President and Missouri cattleman Mike John. “Both animal and human waste is spread on crop land as fertilizer. With this rationale, every time anyone goes the bathroom, they better fill out an environmental impact statement!”
The Superfund laws were created to provide for cleanup of toxic waste dumps and hazardous chemical spills, to force reporting of releases of hazardous chemicals and to enable emergency response. Both the CERCLA and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) contain provisions exempting fertilizer and other substances used in agricultural operations from regulation.
Agriculture is extensively regulated under the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, and other federal and state environmental laws. Farmers and ranchers have never been regulated by CERCLA or EPCRA.
“Manure is a natural fertilizer, used in agriculture for centuries and especially essential to the organic food industry, clearly not a Superfund concern,” explains NCBA’s Director of Environmental Issues Tamara Thies. “It is currently well-regulated by a wide range of tough federal and state environmental laws, regulations and permitting requirements.”
“If animal manure is found to be a hazardous substance under Superfund, then virtually every farm or ranch in the United States could be written off as a toxic Superfund site,’” says John.
On November 17, 2005, Congressman Hall and 29 House colleagues introduced H.R. 4341, a bill that would amend CERCLA/EPCRA to prevent the possibility of manure being considered a hazardous substance under these Acts. NCBA applauds the mounting support in the House, and urges the Senate to follow with similar legislation.
“Superfund laws are supposed to apply to the worst toxic waste situations in the country. We ranchers are responsible stewards of the land who understand more than anyone the value of land conservation,” explains John. “To think of our land as Superfund sites is unconscionable. We rise early in the morning every day to look after the land and preserve the beauty of America’s open spaces. We depend on the land and its resources for our livelihood, and we know Congress never intended to regulate manure this way. This is one of those confusing issues that has the potential to impact each and every family farmer and rancher in America.”
NCBA members are urging America’s cattle producers to contact members of Congress and urge them to speak out for American agriculture by supporting H.R. 4341.