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E-M:/ EPA Finalizes Midnight Rule Benefitting Factory Farms

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 12, 2008
CONTACT: Virginia Cramer, 804.519.8849
                 Josh Dorner, 202.679.7570

           EPA Finalizes Midnight Rule Benefitting Factory Farms
  New Rule Grants Major Exemptions to Hazardous Substance Disclosure Laws

Washington, D.C.--Today the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a
final rule exempting the livestock and poultry industries from the
requirement to report releases of hazardous substances above health-based
thresholds to the federal government under the Comprehensive Environmental
Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA).  The rule also created a
release reporting exemption to the Emergency Planning and Community Right
to Know Act (EPCRA), which requires notification of state and local
authorities, for smaller facilities.  This is the first time the EPA has
ever created an exemption from hazardous substance notification
requirements for a specific industry.

Decomposing animal waste releases toxic chemicals, such as ammonia and
hydrogen sulfide. Exposure to these chemicals can cause respiratory
problems, eye and nasal irritation, headaches, nausea and, in extreme
concentrations, death.  In recent years, as the size of livestock and
poultry operations has increased and concentrated large quantities of
animal waste, a considerable body of research suggests that the release of
hazardous substances from the waste may present a public health risk.

In response, Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope issued the following

"This is one of the most egregious special interest giveaways in eight long
years of special interest giveaways.  The injury from ammonia or hydrogen
sulfide is the same whether someone is exposed to ammonia from a factory or
tank car or from a giant cesspit of manure.  This loophole stinks of
political favoritism.  In EPA's warped view, deregulating factory farms is
more important than protecting communities' health.

"Exempting factory farms from toxics reporting requirements is clear
violation of longstanding law that leaves the neighbors of these operations
at risk of serious illness.  In September, the federal Agency for Toxic
Substances and Disease Registry and the Minnesota Department of health
found that hydrogen sulfide air pollution from a large dairy created a
'public health hazard' for the community.  The state government advised
people living nearby to evacuate their homes.  Only two months later, the
EPA exempts these very types of facilities from having to report their
toxic pollution under CERCLA, saying the reports are unnecessary.

"This is another example of EPA putting politics before science.  In June,
2007, the EPA launched a two-year, $14 million monitoring study to gather
more information about toxic air pollution from factory farms.  Now, long
before the end of the study but just before the Bush administration leaves
office, the EPA decides it knows enough about the problem to exempt factory
farms from reporting requirements.  Why bother with the science?"

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