EPA to Give Factory Farms a Free Pass on Emissions

  • Published on September 24th, 2008

As a thinly veiled favor to agriculture lobbyists, the EPA has proposed to eliminate a rule that currently requires large livestock facilities to track and report their noxious gas emissions. An individual factory farm can be responsible for as much greenhouse gas emissions as an entire major American city.

A Government Accountability Office report, however, has come out against the proposed EPA change. The report explains that one facility can produce up to 1.6 million tons of manure each year, which causes 1.5 times more pollution to water and air than a city like Philadelphia. In Congress, a House oversight committee convened today to try to convince the EPA away from the change.[social_buttons]

The GAO said the number of factory farms had increased about 3,600 in 1982 to about 12,000 in 2002 and that pollution continues to be a problem for communities surrounding the facilities. The rule as it stands is one of the few environmental standards that the meat and dairy industry must follow. It is hardly stringent, as it does not regulate how much methane or ammonia a farm can emit, but rather equips the EPA with information to tackle the problem in the future. Rescinding the rule would be a backwards move for the environment and only the agriculture industry alone stands to profit.

“This GAO study confirms that the Bush administration’s plan to exempt industrial-sized animal feeding operations from emissions reporting requirements is nothing more than a favor to big agribusiness,” said Democratic Congressman John Dingell, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

The EPA issued a statement saying that the rule change is restrictive and would only apply to emissions from animal waste. However, that is where the vast majority of factory farm pollution originates. So far, the EPA seems unwilling to relent on their plan.

Photo Credit: David Blaine on Flickr under Creative Commons license.

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About the Author

is primarily concerned with animal welfare, wildlife conservation, and environmental justice. As a freelance writer in San Francisco, he leads a deliberately simplistic and thrifty lifestyle, yet still can’t help gawking at the newest green gadgets and zero-emission concept cars.


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