Factory farms to get sweet deal from EPA: No air pollution obligation
Sources inside EPA say deal to be released as early as next week;
Public comment period not expected to be honored.

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 6, 2004: The Bush Administration is expected to announce as early as next week an agreement with the meat industry that will shield factory farms from federal air pollution requirements, according to the Environment Integrity Project (EIP) and the Sierra Club. Despite making an earlier commitment to allow public comment on the deal, the Administration is expected to go forward with the deal with mega-farms without any input from the public.

Meat industry groups approached the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2002 asking the agency to shield them from Clean Air Act and Superfund hazardous waste laws. Bush administration officials then corresponded in secret with industry lobbyists to craft a deal that allows the industry to continue polluting without threat of prosecution, in exchange for a commitment from factory farms to study the problem for a number of years. The agreement with the meat industry was drafted without consulting those who suffer from the pollution caused by large livestock operations, and with only minimal input from the scientific and environmental communities.

Relying on leaked drafts and documents that were obtained under open records laws, a variety of concerned parties have told EPA that they object to the deal because of the lack of public participation in the process to date, the sweeping nature of the liability shield, and the scientific flaws in the monitoring program.

Sources inside EPA say that the agency now is finalizing the deal, possibly without seeking public comment -- a move that breaks a written promise made to Congress in October 2003. Using a closed process involving only the industry, the new EPA agreement is another example of the Bush Administration letting polluters write the rules while leaving the public out of the process.

The deal with the livestock industry will put many communities at risk. 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.

For more information on factory farm pollution, go to:
http://www.sierraclub.org/factoryfarms/ and
http://www.environmentalintegrity.org/page31.cfm
.


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