andrew schneider investigates

March 19, 2008

EPA’s animal farm exemption

EPA’s scientists have found that hydrogen sulfide and ammonia from animal waste from huge factory livestock operations can be powerful pollutants with potentially serious health effects, such as acute respiratory irritation and damage to central nervous system. A Pew Commission report on these farms found “the toxic gas emissions can be harmful � and even fatal � to farm workers and surrounding communities.”

So with researchers saying this this issue requires greater, not lesser, scrutiny, why is EPA moving to keep the massive operations from having to report how they’re polluting the air and water?

Rep. John Dingell’s Committee on Energy and Commerce, and the heads of two of the subcommittees – Reps. Al Wynn and Hilda Solis – have written EPA Administrator Steve Johnson to explain what is behind what the members call “this questionable exemption” to the toxic emissions reporting law.

Dingell said: “It’s nothing more than a favor to big agribusiness at the expense of the public health and communities living near these facilities.”

Wynn said: “It defies logic to exempt animal feeding operations from the Superfund and Emergency Planning Community Right to Know Act reporting requirements when the toxic air emissions from these operations can cause severe health effects in people, even death.”

Solis cautioned that without reporting requirements, local governments risk being unable to protect the health and environment of their communities.

“Once again, the EPA has proposed actions which appear to harm � rather than help � the public interest,” said Solis.

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