EPA Doesn't Want To Know About Factory Farm Pollution

Some people think that EPA stands for Environmental Protection Agency; for the Bush Administration, it might be Evidence of Pollution is Annoying. Right now a factory farm has to report to federal, state and local officials when ammonia emissions exceed a hundred pounds per day, which in 2004 the EPA said could irritate the respiratory tract, eyes and mucus membranes for a few days. Hydrogen sulfide at that level could have the same but longer-lasting effects accompanied by memory problems, headaches and dizziness, and have to be reported as well.

But there are no limits or rules on this, so the EPA says that the reports create an unnecessary burden on the giant factory farms like the one in Oregon that puts out 15,500 pounds per day. Said a spokesman: "It is...consistent with the agency's goal to reduce reporting burden where there would likely be no federal, state or local emergency response to such release reports" Because we know the EPA is there to save paper and energy, don't we.According to Erica Werner in the Associated Press:

There are no federal laws or regulations capping release of these substances from animal waste so EPA critics argue that the reporting requirements are the only way for communities to know what they're being exposed to.

"If the public doesn't know that the emissions in their area are hazardous to their health how are they going to find out unless the sources are required to report?" asked Bill Becker, executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies. Becker said the reports are used by some states to respond to local concerns about farm pollution.

Of course the cattle people disagree. "In the end what we're talking about here is not a hazardous substance," said spokeswoman Karen Batra. "It's not toxic sludge or a chemical spill. It's cow manure." ::Associated Press

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