Legislation introduced in the Senate Tuesday would clarify that the original Superfund laws, titled Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act and Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, do not apply to natural animal waste on farms and ranches.
The bill, introduced by Sens. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., Larry Craig, R-Idaho, and Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., amends the original Superfund law passed in 1980.
The Superfund laws were created to provide for cleanup of toxic waste dumps and hazardous chemical spills, to force reporting of releases of hazardous chemicals and to enable emergency response. Both the CERCLA and EPCRA already contain provisions exempting fertilizer and other substances used in agricultural operations from their regulations.
The Senate version already has 23 co-sponsors in favor of the bill. Identical companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives (H.R. 4341) has already gained 174 cosponsors from 40 states.
American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman states clarifying that the Superfund law does not apply to natural animal waste on farms is critical for livestock farmers and ranchers. "Clarifying the intent of the Superfund law will remove the threat of multi-million dollar penalties that were never meant to apply to America's farms," he says.
"Members of the Senate clearly understand how absurd it is that our family farms are somehow being sneakily targeted by exploitation of the Superfund laws," says Jay Truitt, National Cattlemen's Beef Association vice president of government affairs. "Manure is a natural and beneficial fertilizer that's been used in agriculture for centuries. It is already highly regulated under federal and state laws, and clearly has nothing to do with the toxic Superfund clean-up laws."
Truitt says under this rational, everyone who uses the bathroom could be considered an open target for million-dollar lawsuits if the issue isn't addressed.