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Organic Consumers Applaud EPA for Releasing Data on Factory Farm Emissions
Industry reacts by claiming data is in the hands of “terrorists” and “extremist” environmental groups, but shouldn’t we know if factory farms are polluting our air and water?
FINLAND, Minn. - February 28 - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released to a group of environmental organizations, under the Freedom of Information Act, data from a study the agency conducted of factory farms or, as the industry refers to them, Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) in 30 states. The agency collected the data, it said, in order to more effectively carry out its CAFO permitting programs on a national level and to ensure that CAFOs are implementing practices to protect water quality and human health.
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and the National Pork Producers Council reacted to the news by calling the environmental groups “terrorists” and “extremists” who should not have access to the EPA’s data.
“CAFOs are a primary contributor to surface and groundwater pollution, causing a wide range of health problems for people who live in communities where CAFOs operate,” said Ronnie Cummins, National Director of the OCA. “With little or no control at the local or state level, communities must rely on the EPA to monitor water pollution from CAFOs under the Clean Water Act.”
Cummins added: “The OCA applauds the EPA for collecting this data, and for sharing it with the environmental groups who requested it. These groups are working to protect the public’s farms and natural resources. It’s unfortunate that the industrial agriculture industry wants to keep this information from the public, and outrageous that its representatives would compare environmental groups to ‘terrorists.’”
Agricultural waste is the number one source of well-water contaminants in the U.S., where at least 4.5 million people are exposed to dangerously high nitrate levels in their drinking water. High levels of nitrates are linked to numerous health issues, including miscarriages, gastric disorders and cancer. Most at risk, according to the EPA, are infants who suffer developmental problems and even death, due to oxygen deprivation caused by nitrate pollution.
A study released this week by the Environmental Working Group says that more than 100 million Americans in 43 states are exposed to cancer-causing chemicals in their drinking water. The chemicals form when chlorine, added to treated water as a disinfectant, react with rotting organic matter such as farm runoff, sewage or dead animals and vegetation.