EPA Plays Chicken with Regulations: Poultry Farm Emissions Worse than Steel Mills, Oil Refineries


Photo credit: CALM Action via Flickr/CC BY

New studies show that operations from chicken farms generate more ammonia emissions annually than oil refineries and steel mills combined in poultry heavy states. About 8 times more. And now the EPA is pushing for an exemption for the poultry industry so they wouldn't have to report those or other harmful emissions, on grounds that they're protected under federal "right to know" laws. The Bush administration is hoping to get the exemption passed in January, before you-know-who takes office. That's a whole lot of weird, even for this administration--so what's the big stink over poultry?Spewing Chicken Emissions
For starters, broiler producers in the ten states with the most poultry farms unleashed a massive 481,764,049 pounds of ammonia in 2007, multiple studies have shown. Though there aren't any specified air quality standards for ammonia put forth by the EPA, companies are nonetheless required to report their emissions.

Ammonia is a toxic substance--it can cause major irritation to the skin, eyes, and throat, and it can cause coughing and burns. It can even lead to more serious long term respiratory problems.

The EPA's Possible Exemption: a Soft Spot for Livestock?
And that explains why the poultry industry is lobbying the EPA for the exemption in the first place. The strange part is that it looks as though the exemption may be granted, not just for poultry, but for all livestock operations nationwide. Which is baffling, because the likes of oil refineries and steel mills must report their emissions regularly without exception. The Environmental Integrity Project, the Sierra Club, and the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment have all rallied against the exemption.

Time will tell who'll win this game of regulatory chicken--the poultry industry still has to beat the clock. Hopefully, the EPA won't be the first to flinch, and will come to its senses before passing this destructive exemption.

More on the EPA:
Robert F Kennedy Jr to Head EPA ? and 4 Runners Up : TreeHugger
EPA Provides New E-Waste Guidelines, But Zero New Regulations ...
EPA Closing Libraries, Destroying Scientific Documents : TreeHugger

Tags: Air Pollution | EPA | Farming