EPA signs off on exemption of greenhouse gas reporting for farmers

Farmers in Oklahoma and across the country are being given an exemption by the EPA from reporting emissions from animal waste and other pollutants.

The Environmental Protection Agency made the announcement this week after EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler signed the final rule on Monday. It changes the most recent version of the FARM Act which exempted many farmers from reporting air releases of hazardous substances from animal waste.

Signed into law in March, the act made changes to Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) that the bill supporters said regulated emissions from farms much like it regulated Superfund sites, which they call a far too lofty request.

Lawmakers added the provision to the FARM ACT after a Supreme Court decision in 2008 that struck down an Bush-era EPA rule that tried to exempt farmers from the same reporting requirements.

“EPA is taking action to reflect Congress’s direction in the FARM Act that removed an undue reporting burden on American agriculture,” said Wheeler in a statement. “EPA is committed to providing regulatory clarity and certainty to farmers and ranchers — hardworking Americans invested in conserving the land and environment.”

Environmentalists were against the exemption, arguing farmers should have to take responsibility for the emissions coming from their livestock and crops. Cattle and their byproducts are considered a major source of the greenhouse gas methane.