EPA Plan Grants Livestock Farms Amnesty From Clean Air Act

On September 24th, Environmental Defense strongly criticized the Environmental Protection Agency for developing behind closed doors a proposal that gives factory livestock farmers amnesty from violating Clean Air Act (CAA) emission standards. The draft plan, leaked earlier this week, gives polluters a waiver from violations in exchange for small payments into a fund to develop methods to estimate emissions from animal feeding operations (AFOs). Under the draft proposal, any AFO that signs up for the voluntary program would receive a waiver from CAA enforcement, even though emissions from only a small number of AFOs would actually be monitored.

"EPA and the livestock industry closed the door on cleaning up pollution from farms when they drafted this back room deal without input from the scientific and environmental communities," said Joe Rudek, senior scientist with Environmental Defense and a member of the USDA Agricultural Air Quality Task Force. "The draft plan has loopholes you could drive cattle through. It lets polluters off the hook, sets no firm deadlines and contains no firm requirements for the livestock industry to clean up its pollution."

"A voluntary monitoring program has some merits. Industry should pay to monitor its air pollution and collect data that document the full impact of operations on air quality. However, EPA clearly has the authority to require monitoring on AFOs and relinquishes far too much control over monitoring in this voluntary program," said Rudek.

"EPA is preparing to grant blanket amnesty from Clean Air Act regulations to the entire livestock industry, when the agency should be strictly enforcing current standards and imposing controls that protect public health and the environment," said Daniel Whittle, senior attorney with Environmental Defense. "EPA's refusal to enforce the Clean Air Act is troubling to those downwind of factory farms and sends the wrong message to other polluting industries."

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