In comments submitted to the U.S Environmental Protection Agency, the National Association of Conservation Districts has expressed concern with the proposed National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation Reporting Rule. NACD President Gene Schmidt says specifically NACD is concerned about EPA's recommended options for gathering information under the rule; the potential for the disclosure of private information to the public; and the agency's potential engagement in regulatory overreach in light of current law.
NACD's Laura Wood claims EPA's proposed new reporting rule is unnecessary and possibly dangerous. "The local and state permitted practices for CAFOs already operate in this sphere," Wood said. "A lot of work goes into making sure that compliance is met that way and on a more voluntary basis."
That includes through nutrient management plans, and there is also the issue of privacy concerns.
"This proposed rule goes far and beyond what is reported as far as where waste water is at and what kind of animals are involved," Wood said. "It also includes street address, latitude and longitude, type of facility; all these things that create privacy concerns because a lot of people who live and work on farms and ranches share the space of their work and homes."
That raises the chance of unannounced visitors, environmental lawsuits and even agri-terrorism. Wood says they certainly don't want to see increased litigation from environmental groups that could use this very specific information to target people that may be absolutely be complying with very high environmental stewardship standards."
Wood calls the EPA proposal overreach, arguing CAFO reporting is not required under the Clean Water Act and would encroach on the role of USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service and local agencies. EPA could finalize its proposed rule in the next few months.