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Fertilizer or Solid Waste: How Far Does RCRA Spread?

July 2015

Citation: ELR 10633

Author: Bruce Myers, Craig Johnston, Jessica Culpepper, and Dale Mullen

On January 14, 2015, the Eastern District of Washington held that Cow Palace Dairy, LLC, is liable under RCRA for storing, applying, and managing manure in a way that poses a substantial and imminent endangerment to public health in violation of open dumping provisions. This opinion is significant because it defines Cow Palace’s manure as solid waste under RCRA. The court focused on the manner in which Cow Palace stored and used the manure to determine that RCRA exemptions, such as the agricultural waste exemption for fertilizer, did not apply. Given the ruling’s significance, ELI convened a seminar on this topic on February 26, 2015. The panelists held a dynamic discussion: What are the confines, or lack thereof, for the definition of solid waste under RCRA? Why can the same byproduct, in this case manure, be regulated waste in one case and unregulated fertilizer in a separate case? What does this case mean going forward for RCRA practitioners, the regulated industry, nonprofit advocacy, and government regulation? This Dialogue presents a transcript of the event, which has been edited for style, clarity, and space considerations.

Bruce Myers (moderator) is a Senior Attorney at ELI. Craig Johnston is Professor of Law and Director of Earthrise Law Center at Lewis & Clark Law School. Jessica Culpepper is the Food Safety and Health Attorney with Public Justice. Dale Mullen is a Partner with McGuireWoods LLP.

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