[Date Prev][Date Next][Date Index]

E-M:/ Animal Factories Using Closed-Door Meetings with Bush Administration toEvade Environmental Laws

Enviro-Mich message from "Anne Woiwode" <anne.woiwode@sierraclub.org>

Of interest to Michigan people concerned about CAFOS, and an insight
into the Bush Admin assault on the environment.

May 5, 2003

Pat Gallagher, Sierra Club, (415) 977-5709
John Walke, Natural Resources Defense Council, (202) 289-6868 Tatjana
Vujic, Environmental Integrity Project, (202) 572-3234 Brent Newell,
Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment, (415) 346-4179 Tom Frantz,
Association of Irritated Residents, (661) 746-1344 Joe Rudek,
Environmental Defense, (919) 881-2601

Industry Documents Reveal Animal Factories Using Closed-Door Meetings
              Bush Administration to Evade Environmental Laws
Environmental Groups Petition EPA to Stop Sweetheart Deal Drafted
                               Public Input

Washington, DC-Closed discussions between the Bush administration and
the livestock and poultry industry, which resemble the controversial
energy task force meetings held by Vice President Cheney, may soon lead
to far-reaching deals that would shield polluting animal factories from
government lawsuits and effectively exempt animal factories from clean
air safeguards.  According to state and local air pollution
administrators that have pulled out of the negotiations, Bush
administration officials at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
are contemplating an alarming agreement proposed by the meat industry.
A copy of the industry's confidential proposal memo was recently
released by an anonymous source concerned with the consequences of
exempting animal factories from basic environmental protections, and is
available at:

"Third and fourth generation family farmers can't enjoy their backyards,
sometimes can't even leave their houses, due to the toxic gases coming
from the manure in these industrial feedlots.  Knowing that these animal
factories are a major source of toxic pollution, why is the Bush
administration cutting secret deals cut behind closed doors and letting
polluting animal factories off the hook from their responsibility to
obey clean air and clean water laws?" asked Pat Gallagher, Sierra Club's
Director of Environmental Law.

"Exempting animal factories from basic environmental laws like the Clean
Air Act would quite simply put thousands of communities at risk," said
Brent Newell, Attorney with the Center on Race, Poverty & the
Environment. "These facilities pollute like factories and should be
treated as such."

The confidential proposal, submitted by the meat industry last summer,
would provide animal factories the opportunity to enter a "safe harbor
agreement" with the Bush administration.  Under the agreement, larger
animal factories would opt-in by consenting to possible monitoring of
air emissions.  In return, the larger animal factories would receive
amnesty from enforcement for Clean Air Act or Superfund violations.  The
agreement would also protect smaller animal factories, with no risk of
monitoring. But the proposal is riddled with problems, for example:
   Members of the environmental community and the public have not been
   asked to participate in the secret meetings, potentially violating
   designed to prevent special interest influence;
   The agreement strips citizens of their ability to enforce the Clean
   Act, blatantly disregarding the public health threat posed by
   EPA would provide inadequate opportunity for public comment;
   Fewer than one percent of the farms that enter the safe harbor
   will actually be monitored, which severely limits the amount of data
   EPA already has the authority to demand emission monitoring from
   factories without the need to exempt the entire industry from
   environmental laws in the process.

"This backroom deal smells every bit as bad as the stench from these
animal factories," said John Walke, director of the Natural Resources
Defense Council's Clean Air Program. "It's yet another example of the
Bush administration trying to dismantle our bedrock environmental laws
at the expense of public health."

The agreement is so flawed that state and local air pollution
administrators who pulled out of the discussions have now written a
letter to EPA Administrator Whitman expressing "serious concerns" over
the safe harbor agreement.  The letter from the State and Territorial
Air Pollution Program Administrators (STAPPA) and the Association of
Local Air Pollution Control Officers (ALAPCO) also discloses that the
EPA is considering effectively exempting animal factories from the Clean
Air Act and Superfund.

This related and extremely controversial move would mean considering a
wholesale change in the way the Bush administration's EPA applies the
Clean Air Act to animal factories.  By defining emissions from
confinement buildings and manure lagoons at feedlots as "fugitive
emissions," the EPA would effectively exempt the U.S. livestock and
poultry industry from the Clean Air Act.  Fugitive emissions do not
count for purposes of determining whether a source must obtain clean air
permits, so the classification of emissions as fugitive or nonfugitive
is the singular decision that largely determines whether animal
factories are regulated under the Clean Air Act as major sources of
pollution.  The EPA is expected to issue a decision by late May. The
STAPPA letter can be found online at:

"Instead of using our environmental safeguards to protect communities at
risk, the EPA is trying to define pollution out of existence; it's a
blatant reward to appease a politically powerful, polluting industry,"
said Tatjana Vujic, Environmental Integrity Project's Attorney.

Scientific studies are beginning to prove what neighbors to factory
farms know well-manure lagoons emit toxic airborne chemicals that can
result in human health problems.  Peer-reviewed studies have shown
increased headaches, sore throats, excessive coughing, diarrhea, burning
eyes, and reduced quality of life in residents near a 6,000-head hog
operation in North Carolina resulting from air emissions, and increased
eye and upper respiratory symptoms in residents within two miles of a
large hog operation in Iowa.  Animal factories are known to emit smog
precursors, particulate matter, ammonia, and hydrogen sulfide, which can
cause both immediate and long-term respiratory problems.

A joint letter was sent to EPA Administrator Whitman today by the
Association of Irritated Residents, Center on Race, Poverty & the
Environment, Environmental Defense, Environmental Integrity Project,
Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Sierra Club.  The letter
urges the Bush administration to neither remove animal factories from
the Clean Air Act's permitting and pollution control programs nor grant
immunity to animal factories violating federal law.

"We are suffering from the effects of toxic emissions from local
feedlots," said Tom Frantz, a resident of California's San Joaquin
Valley and President of the Association of Irritated Residents.  "We
object to federal policy devised in a secret, back-room deal, a practice
that has become all too common with the Bush administration and its
friends in polluting industries."


For a copy of today's petition from Association of Irritated Residents,
Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment, Environmental Defense,
Environmental Integrity Project, Natural Resources Defense Council, and
the Sierra Club, please go to:

ENVIRO-MICH:  Internet List and Forum for Michigan Environmental
and Conservation Issues and Michigan-based Citizen Action.   Archives at

Postings to:  enviro-mich@great-lakes.net      For info, send email to
majordomo@great-lakes.net  with a one-line message body of  "info enviro-mich"