Tuesday, March 04, 2008

US factory farming to be exempt from Clean Air Standards?

A friend over at a vegetarian forum posted a link to a story on the Organic Consumers' Association (OCA) website that sounds ludicrous enough that it may as well be straight out of The Onion. It seems that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the United States is proposing to eliminate the requirement that factory farms report (i.e. to local, state or federal agencies) hazardous substances they are releasing into the atmosphere that come from animal waste, except in emergency situations. Basically, according to the OCA, the government is proposing this because current legislation is a joke. It's seen by the EPA as a ''burden'' on the factory farms, and, it seems that the government isn't really doing anything to violators anyway, so imposing the regulations at all is just a lot of posturing. To quote the EPA, ''these reports are unnecessary because there is no reasonable expectation that Federal, state or local emergency responders would respond to such report(s)''.

The Sierra Club responded to news of this proposal back in December, pointing out the existing public health hazzard posed by factory farms and the toxins they release into the air and how illogical it would be to suddenly exempt them from having to continue to report what it is which they're releasing. According the the Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC), lack of regulation and enforcement has already proven to be disastrous in terms of what factory farms in the United States are currently permitted to do to the water and to the air.

The US government is accepting public feedback on this until March 27. The general docket info is available here and you can submit comments to them directly here.

The OCA has initiated a letter writing campaign by which they'll also forward your comments to the EPA. Take a few minutes to write in and express why compromising people's health and compromising the environment shouldn't be allowed to happen just because various levels of government are unwilling or unable to enforce existing legislation.

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