WASHINGTON, D.C., June
1, 2005: Four organizations – the Environmental Integrity
Project, Sierra Club, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and
the Association of Irritated Residents – released the following
“Acting on behalf of tens of thousands of family farmers
and rural residents, our organizations have been forced to file
a lawsuit in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to challenge the
sweetheart deal under which the Bush administration has abandoned
America’s rural communities, leaving them to suffer dangerous
factory farm pollution without any hope of relief.
The lawsuit filed on May 26, 2005 challenges the deal struck between
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the livestock
industry allowing factory farms across the country to continue polluting
the air without threat of prosecution by EPA, in exchange for a
commitment from a handful of concentrated animal feeding operations
(CAFOs) to study the problem for a number of years.
The agreement with the meat and milk 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. We object to the sweetheart deal because
of the sweeping nature of the purported liability shield, the scientific
flaws in the monitoring program, and the lack of public participation
in the process to date among other concerns.
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 (ammonia is both a toxic
gas and a fine particulate matter precursor), and giant animal factories
also emit hydrogen sulfide, volatile organic compounds (smog precursors),
and fine dust particles—all of which are linked to respiratory
illness—in dangerous quantities.
In addition to jeopardizing public health and the environment,
the Bush administration's deal undermines efforts by states like
Iowa and California that are working to address the CAFO air pollution
problem. EPA’s notice of the agreement, published in the Federal
Register on January 31, 2005, purports to strip citizens of their
rights to hold polluters accountable under federal clean air laws.
This agreement is just wrong in so many ways. Family farmers and
rural residents are suffering the impacts of factory farm air pollution.
We need the EPA to protect our health and well being instead of
giving factory farms immunity.
EPA should use its existing legal authority to gather emissions
data and to enforce clean air laws. Furthermore, there should be
a moratorium on new or expanding CAFOs until EPA can gather the
emissions data it says it still needs to quantify harmful air emissions
from factory farms.
We are open to working with all stakeholders to lessen air pollution
from factory farms. However, we were forced to file the lawsuit
to preserve our legal options because the Bush administration has
failed to make meaningful progress in cleaning up factory farm pollution.”