Legislation introduced to prevent ranches from being regulated as toxic waste dumps


Senators Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) this week introduced the “Superfund Common-Sense Act of 2011” (S. 1729), which would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the courts from imposing what the policymakers called another “needless and burdensome” regulation on U.S. agriculture.

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Deputy Environmental Counsel Ashley Lyon said the legislation would restore the original intent of Congress under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), more commonly called the Superfund Law, and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA).

She said the Superfund Law was originally passed by Congress in 1980 to prevent toxic waste from polluting U.S. waters and was never intended to elevate extreme agendas by imposing liability on U.S. farmers and ranchers in the same fashion as toxic waste polluters. The legislation would exempt cattle manure from regulations under these laws.

“Congress never intended manure to fall under the jurisdiction of CERCLA. However, some activists groups and attorneys in Texas and Oklahoma have worked to increase the law’s reach by attempting to convince courts that livestock producers should be subject to CERCLA liability,” said Lyon. “Subjecting farmers and ranchers to CERCLA liability could place the financial burden of nutrient reduction for an entire watershed on a single producer. This kind of liability could easily reach into the many millions of dollars and bankrupt family farmers and ranchers.”

This legislation is identical to a bill introduced Sept. 21, 2011, in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman Billy Long (R-Mo.). Lyon said both bills would amend CERCLA to provide that naturally occurring, organic manure and its nutrient components are not considered a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant. She said NCBA strongly supports the legislation, which would prevent EPA and the courts from imposing more regulations, liability and reporting requirements on livestock producers and bring much needed economic certainty.

Source: NCGA