Newhouse Amendment to Prevent EPA from Targeting Farmers, Livestock Producers and Dairies Approved by House
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) released the following statement after the House approved his amendment to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from expanding regulations under the Resources Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 to target farmers, livestock producers, and dairies. The amendment would prohibit funding for the EPA to issue new regulations under the Solid Waste Disposal Act (42 U.S.C. 6901 et seq.) that apply to animal feeding operations. Rep. Newhouse’s amendment was agreed to by a voice vote and included in H.R. 2822, Fiscal Year 2016 Interior and Environment Appropriations.
“I am pleased that the House has taken this common sense step to protect farmers, livestock producers, and dairies across the nation from any Environmental Protection Agency attempt to expand federal rules that were never intended to regulate animal waste,” said Rep. Newhouse. “We all have the responsibility to be good stewards of the environment, and dairies and livestock producers are no exception. This amendment does nothing to prevent the EPA from enforcing current regulations under the Clean Water Act or any other applicable law, nor does it exempt livestock producers from any laws or regulations, but it does require the EPA to follow the law as it was intended.”
In January 2015, a federal judge in Spokane, Washington sided with environmental activists who brought a lawsuit against several Washington State dairies under the Resources Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 (RCRA) for what they claimed was the inappropriate storage and handling of animal manure. However, RCRA was intended to govern landfills and to prevent “solid waste” open dumping. The EPA’s own preexisting RCRA regulations from 1979 acknowledge that RCRA does “not apply to agricultural waste, including manure and crop residue, returned to the soil as fertilizers or soil conditioners.” [40 CFR 257.1(c)(1)] Any new interpretation of the current law would have to stretch definitions to describe manure nitrates as a “solid waste” in order to hold livestock producers liable. Any new interpretation of the existing law potentially opens up the nation’s agricultural producers who use or store manure or other fertilizers to an additional, expansive, unintended layer of federal regulation under RCRA.
For the complete text of the amendment, click here.