The Missouri Department of Natural Resources will advise the Clean Water Commission at its next meeting that regulation changes are needed quickly to avoid U.S. Environmental Protection Agency objections to permits issued to concentrated animal feeding operations.
The EPA's 2003 CAFO final rule is more stringent than current Missouri regulations. Missouri has until February 2009 to amend its regulations or face objections from the federal agency to new permits. The department had been unable to move forward with its rulemaking because of legal challenges to certain aspects of the 2003 rulemaking, which resulted in the 2nd Circuit Court's Waterkeeper vs. U.S. EPA decision.
The main change in the proposed regulation addresses manure management to protect water quality. The updated federal rules place more emphasis on proper management of animal manure both at the production site and on farmland where it is applied.
The changes also include lowering the animal threshold number for swine weighing less than 55 pounds for Class 1C operations from 15,000 to 10,000 swine, plus expanding the inspection, recordkeeping and annual reporting requirements. Lowering the number of swine necessary to be classified as a Class IC will require some existing nursery swine operations to obtain a permit.
"Because it generally takes approximately 18 months to finalize a rule, we may find ourselves in violation of federal law," says Doyle Childers, Department of Natural Resources director. If DNR does not move forward on these changes, its ability to issue permits will be jeopardized as early as February 2009.
DNR will present draft rule language to the Clean Water Commission for consideration at its regularly scheduled meeting. This meeting is March 12 at 10 a.m. at the Renaissance St. Louis Hotel Airport, 9801 Natural Bridge Road, St. Louis.
To meet the federal requirements, DNR plans to ask the commissioners for permission to file a draft rule amendment with the Secretary of State to initiate the formal rule process at its May 7 meeting in Springfield. If the commission agrees, DNR will file the draft amendment and accept comments on the draft rule from June 16 through Sept. 17.
These changes will not address every aspect of EPA's final rule. Because of the court decision, at issue is whether CAFOs that have no planned discharge are required to obtain a permit under the Clean Water Act and if DNR will be required to public notice the nutrient management plans. In response, EPA is preparing a rulemaking for later this year. This revised rule will trigger another state rulemaking in early 2009.
This second phase of the regulation changes would incorporate not only the newest EPA revisions, but other changes, which may be beneficial for Missouri's CAFO program, according to DNR.
Missouri DNR has established a CAFO workgroup consisting of a variety of interested parties, including environmental organizations. For information on the CAFO rule changes, please visit www.dnr.mo.gov/env/wpp/cafo-workgroup.htm, or call 800-361-4827.