Burning Issues

Date: Wed, 5 Dec 2001 15:49:39 EST


SAN FRANCISCO, California, December 4, 2001 (ENS) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has decided to allow the state of California to continue to exempt all farming operations from clean air permitting requirements. Pollution sources on neighboring oil fields and other industries in California must obtain permits which limit the amount of pollution they can emit - agricultural facilities do not. Environmental groups said the Bush Administration bowed to pressure from factory farmers and turned its back on public health in allowing the exemptions. Medical professionals who treat thousands of California residents suffering from pollution related respiratory problems were disturbed by the EPA's decision. Dr. David Pepper of the Medical Alliance for Healthy Air said, "This is an outrage. Our patients are suffering. The EPA should to come to my clinic, visit with an asthmatic child, and then explain to the parents why they are letting air quality worsen and favoring giant factory farms over the health of children." Earthjustice lawyer Bruce Nilles vowed to investigate all legal options to overturn the EPA's decision. "The Administration is playing special interest politics, putting the health of California residents at great risk. This is patently illegal," Nilles said. "We are consulting with medical professionals and community groups about the appropriate legal response." Federal law provides that EPA's decision may be appealed within 60 days. Earthjustice is already representing a coalition of medical, community and environmental groups in another lawsuit against the EPA over its failure to take action to improve air quality in California's San Joaquin Valley.

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