Livestock lobby wields its influence to soften air quality regulations
New documents show special access granted to major polluters, EPA deal borrowed heavily from industry's proposals

Washington, D.C. May 17, 2004, Sierra Club: New documents revealed the extent of meat industry control over the Bush administration's proposed amnesty deal for animal factory polluters. The evidence, exposed by the Chicago Tribune on Sunday , shows that the deal borrowed heavily from industry proposals and that polluters had extraordinary access to the Bush administration officials writing the agreement.

"This is a deal of the polluters, by the polluters, and for the polluters," said Michele Merkel of the Environmental Integrity Project. "These new documents show how much the Bush administration caters to polluting industries, while rural Americans pay the price."

Industry groups approached Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2002 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.

Additionally, the new documents reveal the extent of contact between industry groups and the administration, with monthly meetings taking place over a year-long period. One email exchange documents an EPA official admitting that it was a "no-no" for them to request that the National Pork Producers association pay for EPA's travel to a confidential meeting.

"This is another example of the Bush administration striking deals behind closed doors," said Barclay Rogers of the Sierra Club. "Whether it's Vice President Cheney's Secret Energy Task Force, power companies being allowed to draft rules on toxic mercury, or the meat industry writing their own 'get-out-of-jail-free' card, it's clear that this administration is putting polluters before the public."

The American Public Health Association and the National Academy of Sciences have stated that pollution from massive animal factories jeopardizes public health in rural communities across the nation. Bearing no resemblance to the traditional family farm, these facilities pack thousands of animals into small spaces, produce as much waste as a small city, and spew toxic gases and other pollutants into the air. Livestock production is the single largest contributor of ammonia gas release in the United States, and giant animal factories also emit hydrogen sulfide and fine dust particles-both of which are linked to respiratory illness-in dangerous quantities.

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/


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