Groups Sue EPA over Failure to Regulate Stinking Pollution

Sunday, February 01, 2015
Cattle in concentrated animal feeding operation (photo: EPA)

Love the aroma of beef cooking on the grill? How about the rank odor of a feedlot? The problem is, to get the first you must take the second, and some groups believe the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) isn’t doing enough to stop the stench that’s a byproduct of factory farms.


Eight organizations filed suit last week against the EPA for failing to control emissions from large feeding operations that do not permit animals to graze. These are known as “concentrated animal feeding operations” (CAFOs), of which there are at least 18,000 in the United States. There are two suits, one (pdf) dealing with ammonia pollution, the other (pdf) with methane and other air pollutants.


“EPA has really gone awry by looking the other way regarding pollution from this industry,” said Tarah Heinzen, a lawyer with the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP). “It shouldn’t have to fall to citizens to petition EPA to do its job.”


Petitions were sent to the EPA in 2009 and 2011 asking the agency to regulate the emissions from CAFOs. The lawsuits were filed because of the EPA’s lack of response to the petitions.


According to EIP, U.S. factory farms produce more than 500 million tons of manure every year, more than three times the waste humans produce. Many factory farms store the feces and urine in huge pits that release odors and air pollution and sometimes spill, contaminating rivers.


“When the emissions are at their worst, we have had to leave our home for days at a time,” Rosie Partridge, a resident of Sac County, Iowa, whose home is surrounded by more than 30,000 hogs within four miles, told EIP. “The ammonia and hydrogen sulfide are so strong that my husband has trouble breathing.”


Cattle are the biggest air polluters in agriculture, producing five times more greenhouse gases than pigs or chickens, according to Katie Valentine of ClimateProgress. One solution may be to go veggie: meat-eaters are responsible for about 50% more food-related greenhouse gas emissions than vegetarians and about 100% more than vegans.

-Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

Groups Sue EPA Over Failure To Regulate Emissions From Factory Farms (by Katie Valentine, ClimateProgress)

Coalition Sues EPA for Failing To Address Factory Farm Air Pollution (Environmental Integrity Project)

Environmental Integrity Project,, vs Environmental Protection Agency and Regina McCarthy, Administrator (pdf)

Humane Society of the United States,, vs. Regina McCarthy, Administrator, and Environmental Protection Agency (pdf)

Beef Production Far Worse for the Environment than other Animal Products (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Objection to USDA Plan Allowing Poultry Producer Self-Inspection Spreads to Congress (by Danny Biederman and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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