Wednesday, March 26, 2008

What's That Smell?

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I posted this previously at Eat. Drink. Better on March 12. The comment period closes in two days. A great and detailed post on exactly how to navigate this buried and complex commenting process (Ethicurean) is a great guide. I am just suspicious enough to wonder if making the the comment process difficult is an accident.

Ag industry lobbyists and lawmakers from agricultural states have pressured the Environmental Protection Agency to drop requirements that factory farms report their emissions of toxic gases — even though the EPA’s findings show the gases pose a health threat.

In a head-spinning move, the EPA complied, citing that the reports are not used by local emergency workers and are thus, unnecessary. Unnecessary to whom? It seems valid that the acknowledged threat to residents living and working nearby would be important information.

Unless, of course, they could be used in a lawsuit against you, which has happened with several industrial farms since 1980 when the EPA was first required to document the emissions of ammonia and hydrogen sulfide. These reports are one of the few tools rural communities have for holding large livestock operations accountable for the pollution they produce.

Thus, it’s not a big surprise that the livestock industry has lobbied for years for the rule change. To add insult to iniquity, the EPA posted the proposal in the Federal Register while Congress was on its December holiday recess. The change would take effect in October.

Comment period on this issue ends soon, March 28, make sure to let your representatives know you think this stinks. You can also submit a comment directly to the Federal Register.

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