Bush Admin's Parting Gift to the Factory Farms

factory farm water discharge photo

Photo credit: StoptheMegaDairy.org via earthfirst

Just because we have a new President-Elect doesn't mean that the existing President can't leave a few parting gifts to his friends and supporters, part of what Jeff Odefey at the waterkeeper Alliance calls an "environmental yard sale." Back in March we noted that the EPA (Evidence of Pollution is Annoying) removed reporting requirements for ammonia and hydrogen sulfides; now the President has signed a new rule making factory farms exempt from permits that limit water pollution.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council:

Factory farms, also known as concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), confine animals on an industrial scale and produce massive amounts of manure and other waste that can pollute waterways with dangerous contaminants. EPA estimates that these facilities generate three times more waste than people do nationwide. Moreover, factory farms lack waste treatment facilities comparable to those that treat human sewage.

The new rule:

-Creates a loophole allowing facility operators to avoid permits by claiming they won't have a discharge.

-Adopts a scheme that allows facilities to avoid certain environmental enforcement. For instance, if an operator certifies that the facility won't have a discharge, environmental authorities will ignore enforcement action, even if the facility discharges to the nation's waters.

-Rejects improvements in technology that would reduce harmful bacteria and other pathogens contained in animal waste, missing an opportunity to prevent water pollution and threats to public health.

"Literally and figuratively, this rule puts the Bush Administration's stamp of approval on a load of manure," said Jon Devine, Senior Attorney in the Water Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). "Even though Congress specifically targeted factory farms for regulation under the Clean Water Act in 1972 and EPA has recognized the importance of these operations getting pollution control permits, the Administration stepped in it today."

Sigh. More at NRDC, via Earthfirst

More TreeHugger on Factory Farming:

In the Farm Bill, a " Factory Farm Incentive Program" : TreeHugger
The Meatrix :
The Meatrix II: Revolting (Well, just not as good...)
The Meatrix 2.5: A Look Inside Fast Food Nation

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