Ten Republicans and ten Democrats in the US Senate introduced bipartisan legislation that would prevent farms, ranches and other agricultural operations from having to report livestock manure data under CERCLA, the law that governs toxic Superfund sites. In this week’s Beltway Beef podcast, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Chief Environmental Counsel Scott Yager discusses the legislation and looks ahead to next steps, including what ranchers and farmers can do to push for passage. Read more…
TSCRA Government Affairs Roundup: Cattle Industry Convention, PAC voting recs, CERCLA/EPCRA movement and a WOTUS delay
Several TSCRA staff and leaders are in Phoenix, Arizona, this week attending the Cattle Industry Convention to represent TSCRA and assist development of policy on national issues. Closer to home the TSCRA Political Action Committee released their initial primary election voting recommendations. There was also movement this week on CERCLA and EPCRA; nomination of a Chief Ag Negotiator in the office of the USTR; and WOTUS implementation got a 2-year delay.
The EPA and Army Corp of Engineers have finalized a rule adding an applicability date to the 2015 Clean Water Rule. This rule provides clarity and certainty about which definition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) is applicable nationwide in response to judicial actions that could result in confusion. The new applicability date will be two years after the action announced Jan. 31, 2018, and is published in the Federal Register, during which time both agencies will continue the process of reconsidering the 2015 Rule. TSCRA President Richard Thorpe said the delay will “give administration officials time to craft a new version of the rule. We look forward to working with EPA to ensure the replacement does not harm the men and women who raise our beef.”
TSCRA Government Affairs Roundup: CERCLA and EPCRA update, the big little shutdown and fever tick eradication on federal lands
This week TSCRA government affairs staff continued work to permanently resolve CERCLA and EPCRA reporting requirements that will affect livestock producers, monitored the short-lived government shutdown, and provided comments to USDA-APHIS on fever tick eradication strategies on the Laguna Atascosa and Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuges.
TSCRA has been deeply involved in the push to eradicate the “cattle fever” tick and the disease it carries since being founded in 1877. In recent years the tick has spread, and outbreaks outside of the permanent quarantine zone have occurred with increasing frequency: 2,969 premises across nearly 1.4 million acres are now under some level of quarantine due to the ticks. Ranchers in quarantine areas are required to meet the treatment requirements prescribed by USDA and the Texas Animal Health Commission, which in some cases can be overly burdensome and difficult to achieve. As the ticks make a resurgence and once again threaten the cattle industry, TSCRA supports efforts by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Texas Animal Health Commission to better control the ticks on federal lands. Read more…
The Supreme Court ruled Monday that challenges to an Environmental Protection Agency regulation defining the Clean Water Act term “waters of the United States” must be filed in federal district courts. TSCRA President Richard Thorpe issued a statement applauding the court’s unanimous ruling that maintains the integrity of the judicial system and ensures that challenges will first be weighed by courts closer to the people and communities they affect.
TSCRA government affairs staff have been working with the EPA, Congress and other livestock associations to resolve CERCLA and EPCRA reporting requirements that will affect livestock producers; monitoring the potential government shutdown; meeting with candidates for the upcoming Texas primary election, among other activities.
At this time, TSCRA is not expecting a significant impact on ranchers if CERCLA reporting requirements are enacted prior to our ability to find a long-term exemption for agriculture operations. A D.C. court ruling last year determined that the EPA could not exempt agriculture operations from reporting requirements meant for toxic waste Superfund sites. The court may issue its formal order as soon as Monday, but nothing is official until they actually issue the mandate on paper. Also hear NCBA’s Chief Environmental Counsel Scott Yager discuss the deadline on this week’s NCBA Beltway Beef podcast.
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) kicked off a media campaign Tuesday aimed at spotlighting and correcting a recent court decision that will require livestock producers to comply with laws that are only meant to apply to highly toxic Superfund sites. The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) was enacted to provide for cleanup of the worst industrial chemical toxic waste dumps and spills, such as oil spills and chemical tank explosions. The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) was enacted to ensure that parties who emit hazardous chemicals submit reports to their local emergency responders to allow for more effective planning for chemical emergencies. Both of these laws include reporting requirements connected to the events at hand. However, neither of these laws was ever intended to govern agricultural operations, for whom emissions from livestock are a part of everyday life.
If you’ve ever received a notice that a pipeline company is planning on coming across your property and you found yourself facing the task of negotiating an easement, you know how intimidating that can be. The most important thing to keep in mind is that you, as a landowner, do have rights! You can and should take time to really negotiate with the company to ensure you are receiving adequate compensation and have included terms in the agreement to protect your property. Tiffany Dowell Lashmet, Extension ag law specialist with Texas A&M Agrilife Extension, covers eminent domain and landowner rights. Read more…