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E-M:/ Omnibus Rider Gives Factory Farms Loophole to Keep Public in the Dark about Pollution

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

For Immediate Release
Friday, November 19, 2004

David Willett, 202-675-6698
Orli Cotel, 415-977-5627

Omnibus Rider Gives Factory Farms Loophole to Keep Public in the Dark

Washington, DC:  The Senate and House are likely to consider a rider to
Omnibus appropriations bill that would exempt polluting factory farms
requirements to report their toxic chemical releases to local, state and
federal agencies.  The rider originated with Senator Larry Craig of

Giant livestock operations, sometimes confining hundreds of thousands of
animals, routinely emit large quantities of hazardous chemicals such as
ammonia and hydrogen sulfide as animal waste decomposes.  In addition,
ammonia falls and washes into streams, it becomes a significant source
nitrogen pollution, which feeds aquatic vegetation growth which then
the oxygen out of water.

"Odors from factory farms not only make life unbearable for rural
communities, scientific studies show that their pollution threatens
people's health," said Ed Hopkins, Director of Sierra Club's
Quality Program.

Although few factory farms have estimated their chemical releases, some
large animal feedlots release toxic chemicals into the air in quantities
comparable to large chemical manufacturing plants.  According to a US
Department of Justice consent decree, Buckeye Egg Farm in Ohio had
emissions of more than 800 tons per year.  A chemical manufacturer in
Mason, Iowa, where ammonia releases ranked ninth largest in the nation
among manufacturers in 2002, reported releasing the same amount of

Scientific evidence has shown that these factory farms pose a threat to
people's health.  According to a landmark 2002 study conducted by Iowa
State University and the University of Iowa, "Hydrogen sulfide and
are recognized degradation products of animal manure and urine.  Both of
these gases have been measured in the general vicinity of livestock
operations at concentrations of potential health concern for rural
residents, under prolonged exposure."

Although laws requiring public right-to-know for toxic chemical releases
have existed since the 1980s, factory farms have generally not complied.
In November 2003, a court decision in Kentucky held that Tyson Foods had
failed to comply with chemical reporting laws.  That decision, which is
appeal, has spurred livestock industry efforts to escape from chemical
reporting requirements. In October of this year, the 10th Circuit Court
Appeals ruled against Seaboard Corporation in a decision that confirms
large factory farms across the nation are responsible for reporting
releases of toxic ammonia, which can also cause respiratory problems for
people forced to breathe the polluted air.

"Congress should not use last-minute tricks in must-pass agency funding
bills to create a gaping loophole in the nation's chemical right-to-know
law when the public's health is already at risk," said Hopkins.

# # #

David Willett
Deputy Press Secretary
Sierra Club
(202) 675-6698

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