Coalition Asks EPA to Regulate Greenhouse Gases and Other Toxic Air Pollutants From Factory Farms

For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 
Contact: 

Kate McMahon, 202-222-0715, kmcmahon@foe.org

Coalition Asks EPA to Regulate Greenhouse Gases and Other Toxic Air Pollutants From Factory Farms

WASHINGTON - The Humane Society of the United States and a coalition of environmental and public health organizations filed a legal petition with the Environmental Protection Agency seeking to regulate air pollution from factory farms.   

The petitioners joining The HSUS include Association of Irritated
Residents; Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment; Clean Air Task
Force; Dairy Education Alliance; El Comité para el Bienestar de
Earlimart; Environmental Integrity Project; Friends of the Earth; and
Waterkeeper Alliance.

"Unregulated air pollution from massive factory farms has a
devastating impact on human health and the environment," says Jonathan
Lovvorn, vice president and chief counsel for Animal Protection
Litigation and Research at The HSUS. "The EPA should hold these big
agribusiness corporations accountable for the enormous harm they are
inflicting on local communities, independent family farmers, and the
environment."

The 69-page petition provides detailed scientific and legal
information about the significant emissions of methane and nitrous
oxide-two greenhouse gases-as well as hydrogen sulfide and ammonia from
factory farms, and how all of these pollutants have been shown to have
negative effects on human health and welfare, including adverse effects
on climate and the environment in the United States.

The petition further explains how reducing emissions of major
pollutants from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), which
are massive industrial facilities confining thousands or even millions
of animals in warehouse-like conditions, will improve human health,
reduce suffering of farm animals, protect habitat for wildlife, and
reduce the effects of climate change and other environmental problems.
Regulating air pollution from CAFOs will also create a strong incentive
for new CAFOs to employ production methods that reduce emissions.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
has deemed the livestock sector "one of the top two or three most
significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at
every scale from local to global." This same report found that animal
agriculture was responsible for contributing 18 percent of all
greenhouse gas emissions-more than even the transport sector. 

In the United States, confined farm animals produce 500 million tons
of waste every year, more than 3.3 times the amount of waste created by
humans. Nevertheless, the EPA does not currently require these animal
factories to meet any testing, performance or emission standards under
the Clean Air Act.

CAFOs economically harm small family farms engaging in practices
that are better for animal welfare and more environmentally
sustainable. These independent farmers cannot financially compete with
large factory farms, which cut corners and jeopardize environmental and
public health. Forcing factory farms to comply with environmental and
health standards would level the playing field and help small farmers
become more competitive.

"Our lungs and the future of our planet are not animal factory
subsidies," said Tom Fratz, president of the Association of Irritated
Residents and a resident of the San Joaquin Valley, an air basin in
California with more than 2.6 million dairy cows. "President Obama
promised us during the election that he would protect rural residents
from this pollution and we expect EPA to keep that promise."

"Hog lots and other factory farms aren't just stinky, they're also
destabilizing our climate," said Kate McMahon of Friends of the Earth.
"The EPA has a legal obligation to protect the public by cracking down
on this economic and public health threat - a threat that has yet to be
addressed by climate legislation pending in Congress."

"The people who live in the communities devastated by unregulated
air pollution from animal factories deserve protection" said Charlie
Tebbutt of the Western Environmental Law Center and co-chair of the
Dairy Education Alliance. "Implementing this petition will get animal
factories into the Clean Air Act process and give communities better
opportunities to protect themselves."

"Through global warming and deposition, the toxic emissions from
industrial animal operations have profoundly impacted our water
resources" said Hannah Connor of Waterkeeper Alliance. "By actively
regulating the emissions from this industry, EPA will be taking a
positive step towards protecting and enhancing not only the quality of
our Nation's air resources, but also the quality of our Nation's water
resources, and the public health and welfare of our communities."  

 
FACTS:

  • Over the last several decades, increasing numbers of animals are
    being warehoused in fewer, but larger, operations, in which many of
    them are intensively confined in small spaces such as battery cages,
    veal crates and gestation crates.
  • The increased waste and emissions associated with factory farming
    result in air pollution that contributes to climate change, causes
    serious public health concerns, and harms the environment.
  • The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
    deemed the animal agriculture sector "one of the top two or three most
    significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at
    every scale from local to global." This same report, Livestock's Long Shadow,
    found that global meat, egg and milk production generate more
    greenhouse gas emissions than even the transport sector.
  • Pollution from farm animal production is only continuing to
    increase, making emissions from CAFOs some of the nation's largest
    sources of pollution.
  • Despite clear evidence that CAFOs significantly contribute to
    emissions of methane, nitrous oxide, hydrogen sulfide, ammonia,
    volatile organic compounds, and particulate matter, the EPA does not
    require CAFOs to meet any testing, performance or emission standards
    under the Clean Air Act.
  • Numerous scientific surveys, including the U.S. Inventory Report
    adopted by the EPA, establish that CAFOs meet the standards for
    regulation under section 111 of the Clean Air Act as a source that
    causes or contributes significantly to air pollution which endangers
    public health and welfare.

To download the petition, click http://www.foe.org/sites/default/files/HSUS_et_al_v_EPA_CAFO_CAA_Petition.pdf

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Friends of the Earth is the U.S. voice of the world's largest grassroots environmental network, with member groups in 77 countries. Since 1969, Friends of the Earth has fought to create a more healthy, just world.

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