Will the EPA Remain Focused on CAFOs?

Should the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continue to make Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) a top priority as it relates to environmental enforcement action?  That is one of the questions posed by the EPA in their January 28, 2013 Federal Register notice.

The current national enforcement initiatives (FY 2011-2013) by the EPA include 1) Municipal Infrastructure, 2) Mineral Processing, 3) New Source Review (air emissions from specific sources), 4) Air Toxics, 5) Energy Extraction, and 6) Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, specifically, addressing animal waste discharges from large animal feeding operations.

The January 28th notice in the Federal Register is soliciting comments on what the agency’s new enforcement initiatives (FY 2014-2016) should be.  EPA states, “The public is invited to comment on extending the current six national enforcement initiatives for the 2014-2016 cycle” (emphasis added).

For several years, the EPA has stated they are serious about enforcement at CAFOs.   On EPA’s webpage, Preventing Animal Waste from Contaminating Surface and Ground Water, the EPA provides evidence that they are more than just talk about inspection and enforcement.

EPA Inspections

Source: EPA (http://www.epa.gov/compliance/data/planning/initiatives/2011cafo.html)

As seen in the graphic provided by the EPA, cumulative inspections by the agency at CAFOs shows that large farms continued to be a priority for the agency.

Perhaps in an effort to emphasize the gravity of their focus, the EPA offers some examples of CAFO enforcement on their website.  These include a Beef Feedlot ($145,000 fine) and a racecourse classified as a CAFO for horses ($1.25 million in violations, $3 million in improvements, and $742,000 for supplemental environmental projects).

If you would like to know if there has been any enforcement action in your area, you can find this on the same webpage.  The EPA offers an interactive map of Large CAFOs and EPA CAFO Inspections and Enforcement Actions.

Do you think the EPA should continue to focus on CAFOs for enforcement?  If you would like to have your voice heard on this matter, you need to weigh in by February 27, 2013 (the end of the comment period).

Finally, as a reminder, the deadline for agriculture to comply with another environmental regulatory deadline is quickly approaching.  The deadline for development and implementation of a Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) Plan is just about 3 months away.   Not sure if the SPCC applies to you?  Use this SPCC Quick Guide, or go to the National Milk Producers Federation website and use their SPCC on line tools.

If you have any questions or require assistance on an environmental issue, contact our office at 248-932-0228.