EPA extends Clean Water Act deadlines for animal feeding operations

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To respond properly to citizen comment on a federal court order, EPA announced on July 18 a final rule extending certain compliance deadlines from July 31, 2007 to Feb. 27, 2009 for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).

One extension applies to water pollution permit application deadlines for certain facilities that EPA defined as CAFOs for the first time in 2003. The other extension relates to when CAFOs that have a Clean Water Act permit are required to develop and implement their nutrient management plans. Until NMPs and other aspects of the regulation can be implemented in accordance with the court ruling, state and existing federal rules unaffected by the court ruling will continue to protect water quality.

EPA has been regulating CAFOs for more than 25 years. In response to a February 2005 federal court decision vacating some portions of a 2003 CAFO rule, EPA proposed a revised rule in 2006. The 2006 rule has not yet gone final.

These actions are extensions of the deadlines originally promulgated in the 2003 rule. The extensions are necessary to ensure that EPA finalizes the 2006 CAFO rule in response to the court decision before the compliance dates come into effect. These extensions will allow EPA time to respond adequately to a wide array of public comments on the court decision and will also provide time for states and the agricultural community to adjust to the new requirements of the 2006 proposal once it goes final.

EPA is encouraging its regional offices and States to continue to implement their existing regulatory programs while the agency's response to the court decision is being finalized.

The action being announced today will not affect other aspects of the CAFO water permitting program. It solely addresses timing issues associated with the court ruling.

Today's action will be published soon in the Federal Register. For further information, visit EPA's Animal Feeding Operations Web page:  http://www.epa.gov/npdes/caforulechanges

EPA press release

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