WASHINGTON - On the heels of a decision to allow
factory farms to apply for permits to discharge waste into waterways,
the Bush administration on Thursday exempted the industry from
reporting hazardous air emissions to the federal government, prompting
a consumer group to accuse the outgoing president of undoing years of
environmental protections and "putting millions of Americans at risk."
manure produced at factory farms, where tens of thousands of animals
are raised for food in congested facilities, accounts for 6 percent of
greehouse gas emissions in the United States, while 19 percent of all
U.S. emissions come from transportation, notes Food & Water Watch.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) decision has alarmed
climate and consumer rights activists alike because it lets
industrial-size farms refrain from disclosing the quantity of hazardous
substances -- notably the greenhouse gas methane -- emitted by animal
"Today's action by the Bush EPA is nothing
more than a giveaway to big agribusiness at the expense of the public
health and of local communities located near large factory farms," U.S.
Representative John Dingell said, according to Pork Magazine, a business publication for professional pork producers.
According to his Web site, U.S. President-elect Barack Obama's Environmental Protection Agency "will strictly regulate
pollution from large CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations), with fines for those that violate tough
Bush Administration Exempts Factory Farms From Regulation
Statement of Wenonah Hauter, Food & Water Watch Executive Director
From: Food & Water Watch
"The latest in a long list of midnight regulations released by the Bush
Administration to undermine federal environmental standards is the
Environmental Protection Agency's new rule, published today, that will
let factory farms off the hook from reporting hazardous air emissions.
This move to exempt confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) from
reporting requirements sends a clear message that EPA is no longer
interested in doing its job.
"Instead, EPA has put itself in the livestock industry's pocket after
years of pressure to exempt factory farms from the Comprehensive
Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA, also
known as Superfund) and the emissions reporting requirements of the
Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA). While EPA
did not completely shut the door on the air reporting requirements of
CAFOs in this rule - since they will be required to report to state and
local air health authorities - the agency will not be holding these
factory farms accountable under federal environmental law for their air
pollution emissions. Coupled with the self-certification process
recently approved by EPA for CAFOs to apply for permits to discharge
pollutants in waterways under the Clean Water Act, this rule today
demonstrates EPA is walking away from its responsibilities to regulate
pollution from CAFOs.
"Large confinement livestock operations can be significant sources of
pollution affecting hundreds of communities all over the country. They
emit toxic chemicals such as phosphorus, ammonia and hydrogen sulfide
that can harm human health and cause hazardous air and water pollution.
The reporting requirements of CERCLA and EPCRA provided the small but
vital amount of information communities could access about the
pollutants they were exposed to.
"This last-ditch effort by a lame-duck administration to undo years
of environmental protections is putting millions of Americans at risk."
The rule can be viewed at http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2008/E8-30003.htm