Environmental Defense Criticizes EPA Factory Farm Rules

Environmental Defense criticized new regulations that were expected on December 16th by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for failing to control air and water pollution generated by industrial livestock production. The group said regulations due to be announced today are expected to do little to offset environmental and public health impacts from major air emissions and wastewater runoff from factory farm operations.

"Factory farms discharge a staggering amount of contaminants into the atmosphere, and the EPA regulations fail to seriously address air emissions and their well-documented impacts on public health and water quality," said Dan Whittle, senior attorney with Environmental Defense. "The new rules are a major step backward."

"The federal technology guidelines and permitting rules announced today allow the continued use of rudimentary open-air lagoons and the land application of animal waste, despite the fact that North Carolina and other livestock producing states have banned these outdated waste systems on new farms. The real solution to air and water pollution caused by factory farms lies in requiring owners and operators to use better waste treatment technologies, which are readily available and affordable. The new EPA regulations fail to recognize this basic issue in controlling factory farm pollution." said Whittle.

A report on industrial livestock production issued by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) on December 12 identified ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, methane, particulate matter, nitrous oxide and odor as significant contributors to air pollution. Atmospheric deposition of ammonia nitrogen into waterways is also a major source of pollution, especially in coastal waters such as North Carolina's. The NAS report called on EPA to make immediate reductions in atmospheric emissions.

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