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E-M:/ EPA "Backroom Deal" may let CAFOs off hook

Sierra Club

News Release




For Immediate Release                                                                 Contact: Anne Woiwode 517-980-3373

May 24, 2004                                                                                                 David Willett  202-675-6698


New Documents Show How Bush Administration Gave Meat Industry Control Over Factory Farm Pollution Policy

Michiganders Voice Outrage Over  Special Protections for Polluting Animal Factories



Lansing, MI: Michiganders suffering from the pollution from livestock factories voiced their outrage today, as new documents revealed the extent of industry control over the Bush administration’s proposed amnesty deal for animal factory polluters. The evidence, exposed by the Chicago Tribune on Sunday May 16th, shows that the pollution deal borrowed heavily from industry proposals and that polluters had extraordinary access to the Bush administration officials writing the agreement.


“Near Hudson, Michigan, many families can hardly breathe because the pollution from animal factories has gotten so bad—and the Bush administration’s idea of a solution is to let polluters write their own rules,” said Anne Woiwode, Director of the Sierra Club in Michigan.  "These new documents show how much the Bush administration caters to the CAFO industry while ordinary folks like the families of rural Lenawee County pay the price for pollution.” 


The National Pork Producers Council, the National Milk Producers Federation and several other industry groups and individual corporations approached Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2001 asking the agency to shield them from Clean Air Act violations, the documents reveal.  Bush administration officials then corresponded in secret with industry lobbyists to craft a deal that would exempt factory farms from air pollution requirements.  Internal emails even show that industry lobbyists prepared power-point presentations on the proposed deal for Bush administration officials to deliver.


In Lenawee County several neighbors of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOS) have been diagnosed with neurological and other health problems suspected of resulting from emissions of hydrogen sulfide exposure from dairy operations in the area.  The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality started investigations of air quality complaints in this area earlier this year.  Woiwode expressed concern that the EPA’s “sweetheart deal” could derail these efforts to protect the health of Michigan’s rural communities.   “The state of Michigan is just beginning to take action to clean up water pollution from animal factories after years of stalling by the Engler admininistration,” according to Woiwode.  “Now we face the prospect of Michigan rural families being unable to protect themselves from toxic air emissions from these operations.  The Bush Administration seems poised to write off the future health and well-being of thousands of Michiganders through this backroom deal.”


Industry groups who were revealed as being given special access to the administration include: Smithfield Foods, ConAgra foods, Seaboard Farms, Tyson Foods, Kraft Foods, Cargill, IBP, and Premium Standard Farms. Additionally, the National Chicken Council, National Turkey Federation, United Egg Producers, National Pork Producers Council, National Milk Producers Federation, and the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association were also members of the industry coalition involved in the backroom deal.


Supporting documents are available on the Sierra Club website at: http://www.sierraclub.org/pressroom/cafo_papers/


























Anne Woiwode, Director

Sierra Club Mackinac Chapter

109 East Grand River Avenue,  Lansing, MI  48906

ph: 517-484-2372 fx: 517-484-3108 e: anne.woiwode@sierraclub.org

website:  http://michigan.sierraclub.org