Tuesday, November 18, 2008

EPA Disappoints Again With New CAFO Rule

The EPA has finalized a rule pretending to protect the nation's water quality, and it is now planning to permit CAFOs to self-certify themselves for "no-discharge" certifications.

The rule revises the requirement for all CAFOs to apply for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPEDS) permits and instead requires only those CAFOs that discharge, or propose to discharge, to apply for permits.

EPA should have adopted a recommendation by the federal Second Circuit Court of Appeals to establish a regulatory presumption that large-scale CAFOs discharge pollutants. The presumption would have required that a large-scale CAFO demonstrate to regulatory authorities that it is designed and can be operated to avoid all discharges of regulated pollutants. The presumption would have been for permitting and the CAFO would have had the burden to establish that it would not discharge. The CAFO's "intent" would be irrelevant.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) issued a release calling the final rule a "Halloween Trick from Bush Administration: Treat to Factory Farms." NRDC said under the rule, "Thousands of factory farms will be exempt from needing permits that limit water pollution."

Congress specifically targeted factory farms for regulation under the Clean Water Act in 1972 and EPA has recognized the importance of these operations getting pollution control permits. The Bush EPA continues to disappoint.

Access a release from EPA (click here). Access a prepublication copy of the 240-page final rule (click here). Access a 2-page fact sheet (click here). Access EPA's CAFO rule website for additional background information (click here).

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