Last October the Environmental Protection Agency issued a proposed rule under Section 308 of the Clean Water Act, which allows them to get information from point sources. The proposed rule would be sent out to all confined animal feeding operations either across the country or in what they termed "focus watersheds." It would require those individual operations to electronically upload a laundry list of information about their operation to an electronic database held on EPA's website that would be accessible to anyone across the globe.
"The problem with this rule is one we think it goes beyond the EPA's authority to make such a broad request," National Cattlemen's Beef Association Deputy Environmental Counsel Ashley Lyon said. "Number two, is the privacy issue. We are very concerned that putting the location of every single CAFO in an easily searchable database on EPA's website not only increases the attacks by environmental extremists on our operations but even terrorists from other countries."
The Department of Homeland Security has determined that the agricultural infrastructure is one of the seven critical infrastructures in the U.S. that is susceptible to terrorist attacks.
Ellen Gilinsky of the EPA met with cattle producers in Nashville, Tenn., at the 2012 Cattlemen's Convention to discuss the proposed rule under Section 308 of the Clean Water Act. . Gilinsky said EPA received a number of comments on the proposed rule prior to the closing of the comment period on Jan. 19. She said the agency understands the cattle industry's biosecurity and privacy concerns.
"We are very interested in working with you. We want to work in partnership," said Gilinsky. "We heard your concerns about biosecurity. We are very open to ideas on how to get information. We just want the information. We worked really closely with USDA and what we came up with was actually a result of our work with USDA."
Gilinsky told the crowd that the final rule is expected to be released on July 13, 2012.
"EPA should pull this rule. The agency needs to redirect its focus to working with states and other partners to attain already publicly available information that would allow them to work toward their goal of improved water quality," said Lyon. "This can be done in a way that does not put our food system at increased risk."