Several animal rights and environmental activist groups Wednesday filed a suit against the Environmental Protection Agency for abandoning a proposed rule that would have allowed the agency to collect personal information from "factory farms."
The groups, which include the Center for Food Safety, Environmental Integrity Project, Food & Water Watch, the Humane Society of the United States and Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, said the rule withdrawal "lacks the rational basis required by law."
"The information at issue is critical to the EPA's ability to protect waterways from pollutants produced by factory farms, one of the country's largest sources of water pollution," the groups claimed.
The groups said operations that would have been subject to this rule are farms that fall within the confined animal feeding operation point source category under the Clean Water Act.
"With the withdrawal, EPA continues to pursue a CAFO pollution control policy that can only be described as willful ignorance. As long as EPA continues to turn an unlawfully blind eye towards this industry, our waterways and communities will never be safe," George Kimbrell, senior attorney for the Center for Food Safety, said.
The Columbia University School of Law Environmental Law Clinic will provide legal representation in the case, which comes just a few months after the EPA unlawfully released the personal information of thousands of farmers to environmental groups.
The incident sparked an uproar among farm industries that said the release violated privacy laws. The EPA subsequently recalled the information, and legislation to prevent further releases has since been introduced both in the Senate and in the House Farm Bill.