Ranchers now required to report livestock gas to EPA

RBC | Beginning on May 1 ranchers and livestock producers will be required to report releases of ammonia and hydrogen sulfide from animal waste as they are mandated to participate in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA).
Livestock regularly produce ammonia as they are releasing body gases.
The rules were initially adopted by the EPA in the 1980s, however according to the EPA’s website, in 2008 an animal agriculture exemption was carved out “if the farm had fewer animals than a large concentrated animal feeding operation.”
Last year the rule was challenged by Waterkeeper Alliance and in April the court agreed, striking down the exemption. The new rule, which will take effect on May 1 includes a reportable quantity of the gases at production levels of 100 lbs within a 24-hour period. However, how many animals it takes to produce that level of ammonia or hydrogen sulfide is largely unknown. According to University of Nebraska Associate Professor Rick Stowell it is unlikely that any beef operation with less than 200 cattle will reach this ammonia production threshold. Very little data currently exists on the amount of ammonia produced by range cattle, with most research being conducted in feedlots and confined facilities.
On their website the EPA acknowledges the question now facing ranchers in determining whether or not they are required to follow the reporting rules. “EPA recognizes that it will be challenging for farmers to estimate releases from animal wastes because there is no generally accepted methodology for estimating these emissions at this time. EPA is working on developing methodologies to estimate emissions from a wide variety of operations and thus better inform emission estimates from animal waste. However, that work will not be completed prior to the Court’s mandate that farms report.”
Most grazing operations will be required to use the Continuous Release Reporting Process, which includes reviewing the emissions once annually. Any “statistically significant” changes in the operation during that time will require a new report.