CAFO Rule History
This page outlines the events leading to EPA’s current CAFO regulations.
2012 Review of the 2003 CAFO Rule pursuant to section 610 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act
On October, 31, 2012, the EPA announced its review of the 2003 NPDES Permit Regulation and Effluent Limitations Guidelines Standards for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) pursuant to section 610 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA). Section 610 of the RFA requires that an agency review, within 10 years of promulgation, each rule that has or will have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities (SISNOSE). As part of this review, the EPA will consider and solicit comments on the following factors: (1) The continued need for the rule; (2) the nature of complaints or comments received concerning the rule; (3) the complexity of the rule; (4) the extent to which the rule overlaps, duplicates, or conflicts with other Federal, State, or local government rules; and (5) the degree to which the technology, economic conditions or other factors have changed in the area affected by the rule.
As initially published in the Federal Register (77 FR 65840), written comments were to be submitted to the EPA on or before December 31, 2012 (a 60-day public comment period). Since publication, the EPA received a request for additional time to submit comments. Therefore, the EPA has extended the public comment period for 60 days until March 1, 2013. A Federal Register Notice extending the public comment period was signed by the Director of the EPA’s Office of Regulatory Policy and Management on December 19, 2012, and was published in the Federal Register on January 3, 2013 (78 FR 277).
In submitting comments, please reference Docket ID number EPA-HQ-OW-2012-0813 at www.regulations.gov and follow the instructions provided in the ADDRESSES section of the Federal Register Notice (link below). The results of EPA's review will be summarized in a report, placed in the rulemaking docket referenced above, and published in the semi-annual Regulatory Agenda.
For further information on Section 610 Reviews, see www.epa.gov/rfa/section-610.html.
2012 Final CAFO Rule to Remove 5th Circuit Court’s Vacated ElementsOn July 19, 2012, EPA issued a final rule to revise its CAFO permit regulation to remove the requirement that CAFOs that “propose to discharge” must seek NPDES permit coverage. This rule revision is in response to a 2011 U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit decision in National Pork Producers Council v. EPA, which vacated portions of the Agency’s 2008 CAFO rule. In addition, this action removed from the CAFO permit regulation the option to voluntarily certify that a CAFO does not discharge or propose to discharge. The voluntary certification provision is unnecessary because the “propose to discharge” requirement is being removed.
2012 Final Action on the 2011 Proposed NPDES CAFO Reporting Rule
EPA is withdrawing a proposed rule that would have required information to be submitted to the Agency about concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). The 2011 proposal was in part a response to a settlement agreement reached with environmental petitioners in 2010, which required EPA to take final action by July 13, 2012. Although collecting CAFO information is important, the Agency believes an efficient approach that does not duplicate efforts is the appropriate next step. EPA will collect CAFO information using existing sources of information, including state NPDES programs and other programs at the federal, state, and local level to help ensure CAFOs are implementing practices that protect water quality.
Any CAFO information collected through consolidating existing data sources will assist in implementation of the Clean Water Act. EPA’s final action on the proposal does not require CAFOs or states to submit information to EPA. EPA’s withdrawal of this proposal does not change which CAFOs need permits under NPDES.
2011 Proposed NPDES CAFO Reporting Rule
EPA is proposing a rule that would require concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) to submit basic operational information to EPA so the Agency can more effectively carry out its CAFO permitting programs on a national level and ensure that CAFOs are implementing practices to protect water quality and human health. The proposal is part of a settlement agreement reached with the Natural Resources Defense Council, Waterkeeper Alliance, and the Sierra Club. Under the proposed rule, EPA is co-proposing two regulatory options regarding which CAFOs would be required to submit information to the EPA. One option would require every CAFO to report this information to EPA, unless states with authorized NPDES programs choose to provide this information on behalf of the CAFOs in their state. A second option would require CAFOs in focus watersheds that have water quality concerns associated with CAFOs to report information to EPA.
EPA is requesting public comment on both proposed rule options for gathering the information identified in the proposal and the alternative approaches to achieve water quality protection. EPA extended the public comment period for the proposed NPDES CAFO Reporting Rule. Comments must be submitted by January 19, 2012.
EPA held webcasts on November 9, 2011 and November 17, 2011, please click here to view the webcasts.
2008 Final CAFO Rule
On March 15, 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued its decision in National Pork Producers Council v. EPA (PDF) (29 pp, 404K) regarding litigation over EPA's 2008 amendments to Clean Water Act (CWA) permit regulations for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). In its decision, the court affirmed that CAFOs that actually discharge into waters of the U.S. are required to apply for NPDES permits. However, the court vacated EPA's requirement that CAFOs that propose to discharge apply for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits. EPA plans to revise the NPDES CAFO regulations consistent with the Fifth Circuit’s decision.
NPDES and Effluent Limitation Guidelines and Standards for CAFOs Final Rule (PDF) (70 pp, 1.1MB) - The EPA Administrator signed the final NPDES regulations and ELG for CAFOs on October 31, 2008. These regulations are effective on December 22, 2008.
2006 and 2007 Final Rules for Extension of Compliance Dates for CAFOs
Extension of Certain Compliance Dates for the CAFO NPDES Program - A final rule issued July 18, 2007 extended the deadline, establishing February 27, 2009 as the new date for newly defined CAFOs to seek NPDES permit coverage and for permitted CAFOs to develop and implement nutrient management plans (NMPs) as required by EPA’s 2003 CAFO rule. EPA revised the dates previously extended to July 31, 2007 (71 FR 6978), from the compliance date of December 31, 2006 established in the 2003 regulations, to allow time to finalize the regulations in response to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Waterkeeper Alliance et al. v. EPA, 399 F.3d 486 (2nd Cir. 2005).
2006 and 2008 Proposed CAFO Rules
Supplemental Proposal to the 2006 Proposed Rule - EPA proposed additional options being considered for inclusion in the rulemaking to respond to the changes required by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Waterkeeper Alliance et al. v. EPA. This action supplemented the June 2006 proposal to revise the NPDES permitting requirements and Effluent Limitations Guidelines (ELGs) for CAFOs. EPA proposed a voluntary option for CAFOs to certify to the permitting authority that they do not discharge or propose to discharge and therefore do not need NPDES permit coverage. The Agency also proposed a framework for identifying the terms of the nutrient management plan (NMP) and offered three alternative approaches for addressing application rates of manure, litter, and process wastewater when identifying terms of the NMP to be included in the permit.
2006 Proposed Rule - On June 30, 2006, EPA published a proposed rule to revise several aspects of the Agency’s regulations governing discharges from CAFOs in response to the Waterkeeper decision. EPA proposed to require only owners or operators of those CAFOs that discharge or propose to discharge to seek permit coverage. EPA also proposed to require CAFOs seeking authorization to discharge under individual permits to submit their NMPs with their permit applications or, under general permits, with their notices of intent. Permitting authorities would be required to review the NMP and provide the public with an opportunity for meaningful public review and comment. Permitting authorities would also be required to incorporate terms of the NMP as NPDES permit conditions. The proposed rule also addressed the remand of issues for further clarification and analysis. These issues concern clarifications regarding the applicability of water quality-based effluent limitations (WQBELs); new source performance standards for swine, poultry, and veal CAFOs; and "best conventional technology" effluent limitations guidelines for fecal coliform.
Public Meetings (2006)
Public Meetings on the CAFO Proposed Rule (2006) - EPA held a series of public meetings on the 2006 proposed CAFO regulations. The purpose of the meetings was to enhance public understanding of the 2006 proposed regulations for CAFOs. The meetings were not a mechanism for submitting formal comments on the proposal. The following are paraphrased summaries of the issues raised at the public meetings.
2005 Second Circuit Court Decision on CAFOs
Second Circuit Court Decision on CAFOs - On February 28, 2005, the Second Circuit issued its decision in Waterkeeper Alliance et al. v. EPA, 399 F.3d 486.
2003 Final CAFO Rule
NPDES and Effluent Limitation Guidelines and Standards for CAFOs Final Rule (Some parts of the 2003 final rule are still applicable but other parts are now superceded by the 2008 final rule. Please see the CAFO Final Rule page for more information.) - The EPA Administrator signed the final NPDES regulations and ELG for CAFOs on December 15, 2002 and the 2003 CAFO Final Rule was published in the Federal Register on February 12, 2003. A number of outreach materials associated with the 2003 CAFO Final Rule are available.
2001 Proposed CAFO Rule
Proposed CAFO Preamble and Rule (2000) - The EPA Administrator signed proposed revisions to the NPDES regulations and ELG for CAFOs.
Notice of Data Availability (2002 and 2001)
Notice of Data Availability (2002) - EPA published a second Notice of Data Availability to make additional data and potential changes available for public review and comment (67 FR 48099).
Notice of Data Availability (2001) - EPA published a Notice of Data Availability to summarize certain data received in public comments on the proposed rule and describe how these data might be used in developing final CAFO regulations (66 FR 58556).
Public Meetings (2001)
Public Meetings on the CAFO Proposed Rule (2001) - EPA conducted nine public meetings on the 2001 proposed CAFO regulations. The purpose of the meetings was to enhance public understanding of the 2001 proposed regulations for CAFOs. The meetings were not a mechanism for submitting formal comments on the proposal. They involved a brief presentation by EPA officials on the proposed regulations followed by a question and answer session.
1999 Unified National Strategy for Animal Feeding Operations and Listening Sessions
Unified National Strategy for Animal Feeding Operations - USDA and EPA held public listening sessions on the draft Unified National Strategy for Animal Feeding Operations in 1998 and released the final Unified National Strategy for Animal Feeding Operations in 1999.