Who Should Clean Up Big Ag’s Toxic Mess?

Who Should Clean Up Big Ag’s Toxic Mess?

Postby Oscar » Wed Feb 11, 2015 11:45 am

Who Should Clean Up Big Ag’s Toxic Mess?

[ http://www.alternet.org/environment/who ... 31697&t=23 ]

Meanwhile, a growing number of cities and states are turning to the courts for help.

By Katherine Paul / AlterNet February 6, 2015

A “Cow Palace” in Washington State threatens public health with its acres of untreated animal waste.

A city in Iowa spends nearly $1 million a year to keep illness-causing nitrates, generated by farm runoff, out of public drinking water.

And who can forget the plight of Toledo, Ohio, residents whose water last summer was so contaminated by farm runoff that they couldn’t even bathe in it, much less drink it?

For decades, America’s chemical-intensive, industrial farming operations have spewed nitrates and other toxic chemicals, animal waste, ammonia, antibiotics, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane gases into public air, waterways and communities.

How do they get away with it? Largely because lobbyists have seen to it that Big Ag is exempt from many of the rules and regulations that other industries, and even municipalities, are required to follow under the Clean Air Act (comments on exemptions here), the Clean Water Act (comments on exemptions here), the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the Safe Drinking Act, and others.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says it’s trying to “clarify” the rules outlined in the Clean Water Act, as they apply to farming operations, through its proposed Waters of the U.S. rule. Opponents of the Waters of the U.S. rule accuse the FDA of trying to eliminate exemptions for farmers, though the EPA insists that’s not the case.

One opponent, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), has introduced HR 594, a bill intended to stop the Waters of the U.S. rule in its tracks and preserve exemptions for factory farms and other industrial ag operations. Gosar’s bill reflects Big Ag’s position that any attempt to make industrial ag operations play by the same rules as other polluters represents “massive overreach” by the EPA.

It remains to be seen how the battle to clean up the mess made by factory farms and other agribusiness operations will play out in Washington D.C. Meanwhile, a growing number of cities and states are turning to the courts for help.

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[ http://www.alternet.org/environment/who ... 31697&t=23 ]
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