Lawmakers Criticize Pollution Plan

What is the U.S government doing to stop air pollution?

Lawmakers Criticize Pollution Plan

Postby Wilberforce » Wed Mar 19, 2008 12:21 pm

Lawmakers Criticize Pollution Plan
Wednesday, Mar. 19, 2008 By AP/ERICA WERNER
Time Magazine

Democratic lawmakers are questioning a Bush administration plan to eliminate requirements for farms
to disclose air pollution from animal waste.

Currently farms must report to federal, state and local officials when emissions of hazardous substances
like ammonia and hydrogen sulfide exceed certain levels. In a little-noticed proposed rule change published
in the Federal Register on Dec. 28, when Congress was on its winter recess, the Environmental Protection
Agency proposed eliminating the reporting requirement.

EPA argued that the requirement created an unnecessary burden for farms and that the emission release
reports weren't acted on at the federal level, anyway. The public comment period for the proposed change
closes March 27.

Democratic Rep. John Dingell of Michigan, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee,
sent a letter to EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson on Tuesday arguing that the proposed reporting
exemption "appears ill-considered and contrary to the public interest." The letter was also signed by Reps.
Hilda Solis, D-Calif., and Al Wynn, D-Md. "The Bush administration's plan to exempt industrial-sized
animal feeding operations from emissions reporting requirements is nothing more than a favor to big
agribusiness at the expense of the public health," Dingell said in a statement.

EPA spokesman Jonathan Shradar said agency officials would review and respond to Dingell's letter.
He noted that the proposed exemption is limited in scope as it would only apply to emissions from animal
waste. "It is also protective of human health and the environment and consistent with the agency's goal to
reduce reporting burden where there would likely be no federal, state or local emergency response to such
release reports," Shradar said.

A February 2004 memo from EPA's Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards concluded that exposure
to ammonia emissions at the 100 pound-per-day level that triggers the reporting requirement could irritate
the respiratory tract, eyes and mucus membranes for a few days. Exposure to hydrogen sulfide at that level
could have the same but longer-lasting effects accompanied by memory problems, headaches and dizziness.

According to EPA hearing testimony to Congress, an estimated 140 animal-feeding operations reported
ammonia releases exceeding the 100 pound-per-day level in the 2006 fiscal year, and an estimated 130
operations in the 2007 fiscal year. Some facilities regularly exceeded the reporting levels. One example
was a dairy farm in Oregon called Three Mile Canyon Farms which reported daily ammonia emissions
of 15,500 pounds.

There are no federal laws or regulations capping release of these substances from animal waste so EPA
critics argue that the reporting requirements are the only way for communities to know what they're being
exposed to. "If the public doesn't know that the emissions in their area are hazardous to their health how
are they going to find out unless the sources are required to report?" asked Bill Becker, executive director
of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies. Becker said the reports are used by some states to
respond to local concerns about farm pollution.

But a spokeswoman for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association contended that the Superfund law and
the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, both of which contain reporting requirements,
are not intended to cover livestock manure.

"In the end what we're talking about here is not a hazardous substance," said spokeswoman Karen Batra.
"It's not toxic sludge or a chemical spill. It's cow manure." ... 80,00.html
Pollution from Giant Livestock Farms Threatens Public Health
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