Nebraska Cattlemen supports changing Livestock Waste Management Act

Jan 30, 2009
by WLJ
Nebraska Cattlemen supports changing Livestock Waste Management Act

The Nebraska Cattlemen’s Association (NCA) recently presented testimony to the Legislature’s Natural Resources Committee in support of LB 56. The cattlemen drafted the proposal to change the Livestock Waste Management Act to correct an unfair provision in current state statute. Under the current law, a violation of an environmental regulation by one livestock business could impact another livestock operation negatively.

The Nebraska Livestock Waste Management Act was passed in 1998 with a provision commonly referred to as the “bad actor” clause. When the law was passed, the intent was to prevent those who had demonstrated poor environmental stewardship in other states from relocating to Nebraska. This was accomplished by saying that the department shall reject, revoke or suspend certain applications or permits if the applicant or permittee is found to be unsuited to perform the obligations of a permit holder. Unsuitability hinges upon a) three discharges in a five-year period (three strikes) not in compliance with a permit, or b) a criminal conviction for a violation of section 81-1506 or a felony criminal conviction for violation of the environmental law in any jurisdiction.

The unintended consequences of the law are that producers who may have ownership in more than one facility can be held accountable at their own operations for violations by others at another facility. LB 56 changes the statute to bring the evaluation of non-compliant discharges to a facility-byfacility basis. Further changes will require Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality to hold a hearing on each event to determine if the circumstances rise to the level of a “strike.”

“We understand environmental regulations are necessary,” NCA President Todd Schroeder said. “We also believe in protecting the environment, but pertinent laws need to be fair. We are simply trying to assure that the Livestock Waste Management Act is fair by addressing the unintended consequences of accounting fault to innocent parities and the potential for their loss of operating authority.” — WLJ