Draft National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System General Permit for Operation of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (PAG-12)
[50 Pa.B. 4194]
[Saturday, August 15, 2020]
The Department of Environmental Protection (Department) is announcing the availability of a draft National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) General Permit for Operation of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (PAG-12). To access the draft General Permit and related documents, visit www.depgreenport.state.pa.us/elibrary/ (select ''Permit and Authorization Packages,'' then ''Clean Water,'' then ''Draft—PAG-12 NPDES General Permit for Operation of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations'').
The PAG-12 General Permit is intended to provide NPDES permit coverage to persons operating concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO) within this Commonwealth in satisfaction of State and Federal NPDES permit requirements, as established in 25 Pa. Code Chapter 92a (relating to National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permitting, monitoring and compliance), where such CAFOs meet the eligibility requirements of the PAG-12 General Permit.
The Department published notice of the availability of a final PAG-12 General Permit at 48 Pa.B. 1898 (March 31, 2018). This PAG-12 General Permit became effective April 1, 2018, with an expiration date of March 31, 2023. Since the reissuance of the 2018 PAG-12 General Permit, the Department has become aware of several modifications that are necessary to make corrections and to reduce administrative burdens associated with the 2018 PAG-12 General Permit. The modifications that the Department is proposing to make through amendment of the PAG-12 General Permit are as follows:
• Coverage Expiration Date—A specific expiration date will be identified on the coverage approval page of the amended PAG-12 General Permit. This date will coincide with the expiration date of the master PAG-12 General Permit. All coverage under the amended PAG-12 General Permit will expire on the same date. CAFOs are expected to submit a timely Notice of Intent (NOI) for continuation of coverage under a reissued general permit prior to expiration of their existing coverage. The Department will provide information on what will be expected of CAFOs for future permit coverage at a later date.
• Annual Report Serving as NOI—Under the 2018 PAG-12 General Permit, CAFO Annual Reports are considered NOIs to continue coverage under the General Permit. The Department chose to utilize this CAFO Annual Report/NOI arrangement in an effort to reduce administrative burden while ensuring that permitted CAFOs continue to be eligible for coverage. In the Department's experience since the 2018 PAG-12 General Permit was issued, the CAFO Annual Report/NOI arrangement has not reduced administrative burden as intended. In addition, members of the public have expressed confusion over the role and function of CAFO Annual Reports. The amended PAG-12 General Permit would no longer consider CAFO Annual Reports as NOIs. Permittees authorized to operate under the amended PAG-12 General Permit will continue to submit CAFO Annual Reports under Part A.III.D., but the Department would no longer consider the CAFO Annual Report to serve as an NOI.
• Removal of Automatic Expiration of Coverage Language—The 2018 PAG-12 General Permit specifies that failure to submit the CAFO Annual Report and the annual NOI installment fee payment by the due date will constitute an expiration of coverage. The Department has determined that this language reduces the Department's discretion, produces an administrative burden, and is no longer necessary with the change to the role and function of the CAFO Annual Report as previously explained. The Department is proposing to clarify that failure to submit the CAFO Annual Report and the annual NOI installment fee payment may result in revocation of coverage or enforcement action. The Department will continue to take necessary enforcement action in the event a permittee fails to submit timely CAFO Annual Reports or annual NOI installment fee payments.
• Daily Water Line Inspections—The 2018 PAG-12 General Permit includes a requirement from Federal regulations at 40 CFR 412.37 (relating to additional measures) that operations with at least 700 mature dairy cows or 1,000 cattle, or both, other than mature dairy cows and veal calves must inspect water lines daily, including drinking water or cooling water lines, for the presence of leaks. The 2018 PAG-12 General Permit inadvertently omitted other types of operations that must conduct daily water line inspections under Federal regulations. Those operations include all Large CAFOs except those with sheep, lambs, horses or ducks. This omission will be corrected in the amended PAG-12 General Permit.
The Department is proposing to amend the 2018 PAG-12 General Permit as previously described. The amended PAG-12 General Permit will be effective for the remainder of the current permit term. An NOI to remain covered under the amended PAG-12 General Permit will be due by January 1, 2021. The Department will publish notice of the receipt of NOIs in the Pennsylvania Bulletin and will publish notice when actions are taken by the Department to approve or deny a CAFO's coverage under the amended PAG-12 General Permit.
Written Comments: Interested persons are invited to submit written comments regarding the Draft PAG-12 General Permit and associated documents through Monday, September 14, 2020. Comments submitted by facsimile will not be accepted. Comments, including comments submitted by e-mail, must include the commentator's name and address. Commentators are encouraged to submit comments using the Department's online eComment tool at www.ahs.dep.pa.gov/eComment. Written comments should be submitted by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to the Department of Environmental Protection, Policy Office, Rachel Carson State Office Building, P.O. Box 2063, Harrisburg, PA 17105-2063.
Written comments submitted during the 30-day comment period will be retained by the Department and considered in finalizing the PAG-12 General Permit. The Department will provide an opportunity for any interested person or group of persons, any affected State, any affected interstate agency, the United States Environmental Protection Agency or any interested agency to request or petition for a public hearing with respect to the proposed PAG-12 General Permit. The request or petition for public hearing, which must be filed within the 30-day period allowed for filing of written comments, must indicate the interest of the party filing the request and the reasons why a hearing is warranted. A hearing will be held if there is significant public interest.
[Pa.B. Doc. No. 20-1109. Filed for public inspection August 14, 2020, 9:00 a.m.]
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