EPA Consent Agreement Attracts Lawsuit

Four organizations claim air quality agreement lets "factory farms" off the hook. Compiled by staff

Published on: Jun 1, 2005

Four organizations - the Environmental Integrity Project, Sierra Club, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and the Association of Irritated Residents - filed a lawsuit May 26, 2005, in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to challenge the Environmental Protection Agency's Air Quality Agreement set up this year for animal feeding operations.

According to the EPA, the purpose of the agreement is to ensure that AFOs comply with applicable environmental requirements and to gather scientific data the Agency needs to make informed regulatory and policy determinations. The agreement will establish an industry-funded emissions monitoring program that will help provide this information, leading to better tools to help the farm industry, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and EPA determine the compliance status of feeding operations.

The organizations called the agreement a "sweetheart deal" because it prevents concentrated animal feeding operations from being prosecuted in exchange for allowing the EPA to study the problem for a number of years. "We object to the sweetheart deal because of the sweeping nature of the purported liability shield, the scientific flaws in the monitoring program, and the lack of public participation in the process to date among other concerns," a statement from the four groups say.

The groups say the agreement with the meat and milk industry was drafted without consulting those who suffer from the pollution caused by large livestock operations, and with only minimal input from the scientific and environmental communities.

"EPA should use its existing legal authority to gather emissions data and to enforce clean air laws," the groups say. "Furthermore, there should be a moratorium on new or expanding CAFOs until EPA can gather the emissions data it says it still needs to quantify harmful air emissions from factory farms."

The groups indicate they are open to working with all stakeholders to lessen air pollution from factory farms. "However, we were forced to file the lawsuit to preserve our legal options because the Bush administration has failed to make meaningful progress in cleaning up factory farm pollution," they say.

For more information on the consent agreement, click HERE.