The National Chicken Council said in comments submitted last week that the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed wastewater guidelines will result in establishment closures, job losses, increased costs, and general anxiety about the future of effluent guidelines.

The comments were submitted in response to EPA’s proposed rule, entitled “Clean Water Act Effluent Limitations Guidelines (ELG) and Standards for the Meat and Poultry Products Point Source Category,” which would revise the ELGs for wastewater discharged by meat and poultry processing and rendering facilities.

NCC pointed to several key arguments in the comments, including:

  • EPA has not provided adequate time to allow for meaningful public comment on the proposed rule;
  • The proposed rule lacks necessary supporting data and could negatively impact existing symbiotic relationships;
  • The proposed limits are too restrictive with weak justifications;
  • Options 2 and 3 should not be considered, while Option 1 needs substantial modifications; and
  • The economic considerations are likely incorrect or downplay the realities of the proposed rule.

“Pushing forward at these speeds degrades the effectiveness of the rulemaking process,” NCC said. “We ask that EPA be considerate of the parties affected by this rulemaking and truly consider all impacts to all stakeholders involved – not limited to MPP facilities. A rule that results in establishment closures, job losses, increased costs, and general anxiety about the future of effluent guidelines is one that should be considered in a more deliberate fashion.”

In terms of next steps, NCC suggested EPA leave in place the current 2004 MPP ELGs and redo the necessary scientific, economic, and engineering studies necessary to determine whether new requirements are truly needed.

“Alternatively, EPA could withdraw the proposed rule and reissue a new proposal addressing the concerns raised by comments. Finally, EPA could publish the relevant information, including what the Agency is still collecting today, and reissue a proposed rule with an additional and adequate comment period. Any of the above-mentioned options is a better approach than the current trajectory.”

NCC also joined a broader coalition of meat and poultry industry groups in submitting separate comments, which can be found here.