The Superfund Common-Sense Act of 2011 - S. 1729 - has been introduced in the U.S. Senate. Sponsored by Senators Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, the act would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency and the courts from imposing what the policymakers call another "needless and burdensome" regulation on U.S. agriculture. A companion bill was introduced earlier in the House by Representative Billy Long, R-Mo.
Ashley Lyon, Deputy Environmental Counsel for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, says the legislation would restore the original intent of Congress under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, more commonly called the Superfund Law, and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act. She says the Superfund Law was originally passed to prevent toxic waste from polluting U.S. waters and Congress never intended manure to fall under the jurisdiction of CERCLA.
Lyon says 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 says 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.
A similar bill was introduced a few years ago, but the anti-EPA climate on Capitol Hill this year, according to American Farm Bureau Regulatory Specialist Tyler Wegmeyer, has prompted them to renew the fight.
"I think they have recognized that there is an opportunity in this Congress," Wegmeyer said. "To finally get this corrected and that manure is not a hazardous substance and shouldn't be regulated under superfund laws."
Wegmeyer says Congress never intended the 1980 superfund law to cover farms and ranches the way it covers toxic waste polluters.
"They are already regulated under the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act as well as other state environmental statutes," Wegmeyer said. "Having this additional circle of liability could cost operations into the millions of dollars to defend themselves against lawsuits."