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Despite Public Opposition, Bush's EPA Will Allow Factory Farms to Pollute

Livestock Pollution Deal
www.farmpolicy.com, 1/31/06

An Associated Press article published in today's New York Times reported that, "The Bush administration will exempt thousands of farms that raise poultry, cattle and hogs from heavy fines for fouling the air and water with animal excrement in exchange for data to help curb future pollution.

"The Environmental Protection Agency has signed agreements with 2,681 animal feeding operations in the egg, chicken, turkey, dairy and hog industries. They would be exempt from having to pay potential fines of up to $27,500 a day for violations either in the past or over the next four years.

"On Monday, the agency said its Environmental Appeals Board had approved the first 20 of those agreements, selecting accords it thought were representative of the whole. Ten are with swine-raising operations and 10 with operations that raise egg-laying birds.

"The board said it had determined that the agreements were consistent with the Clean Air Act. Agency officials said the approvals set the stage for the remaining agreements to gain approval quickly."

The A.P. story went on to explain that, "By signing on, the farms agree to abide by clean air, hazardous waste and emergency reporting laws after the data are collected. They would pay $2,500 into an E.P.A. fund and agree to let agency-approved contractors monitor the air. The fund would pay for two years of air monitoring at 28 to 30 farms nationwide at a cost of up to $500,000 each.

"Companies also would have to agree to pay civil penalties of $200 to $100,000, depending on the size and number of farms they operate. Those fines would cover presumed violations, past and present.

"Without the deal, the air standards would probably take a decade or more to complete, officials said. With it, companies gain some certainty about the science used to set emissions policies."

Philip Brasher, in an article posted yesterday at the Des Moines Register webpage, picked up on this development and reported that, "Three livestock producers in Iowa are among the first in the nation to get deals with the government that will protect them from liability for air pollution.

"Those Iowa operations are among 2,700 producers nationwide that have signed up for the amnesty program.

"In exchange for the lawsuit protection, the producers agree to take part in a study of farm emissions and pay penalties that vary depending on the size of the operation. EPA says the study is needed to show the extent of emissions of ammonia and other pollutants from hog, cattle and poultry operations.

"EPA says it will use the data to develop new emission estimates for regulating farms.

"An EPA appeals board cleared the way for the agreements by overruling objections by environmental and community groups that claim the government overstepped its authority in offering the amnesty deals.

"The groups also have challenged the industry deals through lawsuit now pending in the D.C. Court of Appeals."

For more information on this agreement, see this E.P.A. webpage:
http://www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/agreements/caa/cafo-agr-0501.html