Animal Waste and Hazardous Substances: Current Laws and Legislative Issues [October 17, 2006]   [open pdf - 52KB]

From the Summary: "The animal sector of agriculture has undergone major changes in the last several decades: organizational changes within the industry to enhance economic efficiency have resulted in larger confined production facilities that often are geographically concentrated. These changes, in turn, have given rise to concerns over the management of animal wastes and potential impacts on environmental quality. Federal environmental law does not regulate all agricultural activities, but certain large animal feeding operations (AFOs) where animals are housed and raised in confinement are subject to regulation. The issue of applicability of these laws to livestock and poultry operations -- especially the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA, the Superfund law) and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) -- has been controversial and recently has drawn congressional attention. […] These lawsuits testing the applicability of Superfund and EPCRA to poultry and livestock operations have led to congressional interest in these issues. In the 109th Congress, legislation has been introduced that would amend CERCLA to clarify that manure is not a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant under that act and that the laws' notification requirements would not apply to releases of manure (H.R. 4341 and S. 3681). Proponents of the legislation argue that Congress did not intend that either of these laws apply to agriculture and that enforcement and regulatory mechanisms under other laws are adequate to address environmental releases from animal agriculture. Opponents respond that enforcement under Superfund fills critical gaps not addressed in other environmental laws and that enacting an exemption would severely hamper the ability of government and citizens to know about and respond to releases of hazardous substances caused by an animal agriculture operation."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL33691
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