Statement by Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director, Food & Water Watch
Washington, D.C.—“The Environmental Protection Agency announced late last week that it is abandoning its plan to gather even the most basic information from the over 20,000 highly polluting and largely unregulated factory farms in the United States. This move by the EPA is a dereliction of duty.
“The facilities, known as Concentrated Animal Feeing Operations, or CAFOs, are responsible for a multitude of environmental and public health impacts and make up part of an industry that is the single largest contributor of pollutants to our nation’s waterways. The failure to follow through with a 2011 proposal to gather even simple data like locations of the facilities, number of animals contained and proximity to waterways is clearly pandering to agribusiness during an election year.
“Specifically, the EPA announced late last week it will not move ahead with a 2011 proposal to gather even simple data like locations of the facilities, number of animals contained and proximity to waterways.
“EPA’s withdrawn rule was initially proposed because the Agency recognized that these industrial facilities are improperly evading regulation. In 2008, the U.S. Government Accountability Office issued a report urging the Agency to gather more information to protect U.S. citizens from the air and water impacts of these factories. The report stated, ‘EPA has neither the information it needs to assess the extent to which CAFOs may be contributing to water pollution, nor the information it needs to ensure compliance with the Clean Water Act.’
“In its proposed information gathering rule from last fall, EPA noted that these facilities generate around 300 million tons of manure each year, triple the amount of bodily wastes from all the people in the country. It confirmed that manure from these massive operations contain more than 40 diseases that can be transferred to humans through dirty water, including tuberculosis, salmonellosis, infant diarrheal disease and giardiasis. These diseases are in addition to the nutrients, heavy metals (including arsenic) and antibiotics that pour into our water supplies from this industry.
“The White House’s announcement late Friday that it is no longer formally seeking any information about this highly polluting industry stands not only as an abandonment of EPA’s mission to the detriment of our waterways and the American people, but it also it represents a direct contradiction of Obama’s 2008 Campaign promise to ‘strictly regulate pollution from large [CAFOs]….’ President Obama has gone back on his word when it comes to protecting our waterways and our communities from the many harmful impacts of animal factory farming.”
Kate Fried, [email protected], 202-683-4905