January 28, 2015
EPA Factory Farm Pollution Lawsuit Filed

The EPA is being sued by a group of community, animal rights, and environmental organizations. The coalition has filed two lawsuits against the Environmental Protection Agency for allegedly failing to control factory farm air pollution levels.

There are approximately 20,000 factory farms currently operating in the United States. Health problems for humans stemming from the industrial farm pollution the EPA allegedly failed to address include asthma and heart attacks. Health problems allegedly posed to animals include "dead zones" in waterways created by "regional haze" and "intensified effects of climate change."

The industrial farms in America reportedly house billions of hogs, chickens, and their common agricultural livestock. The animals release "noxious air pollutants, including ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, volatile organic compounds, methane and particulate matter," according to the Environmental Protection Agency lawsuit.

The Environmental Integrity Project and the Humane Society of the United States filed the two lawsuits reportedly on behalf of family farmers and rural residents who could have their quality of life and life negatively impacted by the factory farms.

"When the emissions are at their worst, we have had to leave our home for days at a time. The ammonia and hydrogen sulfide are so strong that my husband has trouble breathing," Rosie Partridge, an Iowa family farmer, said. Her farm is reportedly surrounded by factory farms which house more than 30,000 hogs within a four-mile radius.

The EPA lawsuits both demand that the federal agency initiate action proposed on two rule-making petitions. The petitions, which were filed in previous years, ask the EPA to use its power via the federal Clean Air Act "to control emissions of air pollution from factory farms."

"Factory farms have managed to skirt regulation and accountability for far too long. With this lawsuit, we seek to defend the neighboring communities and local environment that have dealt with the consequences of these massive operations for decades. It's time for EPA to fulfill its mandate," said Paige Tomaselli, senior attorney at the Center for Food Safety.

"Factory farm air pollution harms public health, the environment and rural quality of life," said Tarah Heinzen, attorney for the Environmental Integrity Project.

"Yet EPA is looking the other way while citizen pleas for action collect dust on the agency's shelf. EPA has acknowledged the harmful impacts of factory farm air pollution for over a decade, yet is still failing to act on the problem."
Center for Food Safety statistics state the following.
"U.S. factory farms produce more than 500 million tons of manure every year, more than three times the waste produced by humans, according to EPA. Instead of treating the feces and urine, many factory farms store it in huge pits that release odors and air pollution and sometimes spill, contaminating rivers. Operators also spray manure onto fields, sending bacteria-laden droplets onto the homes of downwind residents."
The federal EPA lawsuits ask the court to order EPA to make a final decision on the 2011 and 2009 petitions within 90 days. The plaintiffs are the Environmental Integrity Project, the Humane Society of the United States, Center for Food Safety, Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, Clean Wisconsin, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, and the Association of Irritated Residents represented by the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment.

What do you think about the EPA lawsuits and factory farms?

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