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Yet Again: EPA Denies CAFO Rulemaking Petitions

Yesterday, August 15, 2023, USEPA denied two petitions for rulemaking, dating back to 2017, filed by activists seeking to significantly expand the scope and reach of regulation applicable to the nation's livestock operations large enough to be considered concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). Petitioners sought to gain through the executive branch that which it cannot obtain via Congress—a typical end-run strategy.

In response, EPA committed to further study the effectiveness of the CAFO regulatory program and consider certain updates and reforms. This work will include convening a subcommittee under the agency's existing Farm, Ranch and Rural Communities Advisory Committee (FRRCC) to provide input. The FRRCC was established in 2008 and has farmer representatives on board, making it hopeful farms get a fair shake in the process.

Encouragingly, as part of this process, the agency committed to exploring the multitude of new technologies being deployed to better manage process wastewater. CAFO owners are at the cutting edge of such technology adoption, and we have and are assisting several in deployment. 

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"...EPA is launching a comprehensive evaluation of potential areas for improvement of the CWA NPDES regulatory program requirements for CAFOs....EPA will [also] convene an Animal Agriculture and Water Quality (AAWQ) subcommittee under the existing Farm, Ranch, and Rural Communities Federal Advisory Committee to hear from farmers, community groups, researchers, state agencies, and others about the most effective and efficient ways to reduce pollutants generated from CAFOs."


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