WASHINGTON – The Environmental Protection Agency proposed a rule on Oct. 21 that would require concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) to submit operational information to the agency so the agency can more “effectively carry out its CAFO permitting programs and ensure that CAFOs are implementing practices to protect water quality and human health.”

Some of the information EPA is requesting may be confidential business information and the proposed rule would allow EPA to question the confidentiality of the information the agency is requesting. Information required by EPA in this proposed rule includes contact information, location information, National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting information, number and type of animals, and land application statistics.

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 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.

Dec. 20 is the comment deadline for the proposed rule. Comments can be submitted at www.regulations.gov using the docket number EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0188. EPA plans to take final action on this proposal by July 2012.