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Farm Emissions Ruling Sparks Outrage

by 5m Editor
26 July 2007, at 10:50am

US - Environmentalists are fuming over a federal court decision that they say means more misery for Iowans and other Americans living near livestock farms - and a free pass for the operations to pollute without penalty for the next two years.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled last week that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency acted within its enforcement powers when it agreed to give 14,000 farms two years of legal amnesty in return for modest fines and help with a nationwide emissions monitoring program. Environmental groups had contended the agreements overstepped the EPA's powers and were equivalent to making a rule without the required public review.

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"For the next few years, they can do anything they want because they are off the hook,"

Pat Gallagher, Sierra Club legal director.

"They are giving the (confinements) a sweeter deal than Scooter Libby," said Sierra Club legal director Pat Gallagher, who worked with the plaintiffs. He was referring to the former aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, whose prison sentence for lying and obstruction of justice in the outing of a CIA officer was set aside by President Bush.

"For the next few years, they can do anything they want because they are off the hook," Gallagher said of the livestock operations that signed deals with EPA.

Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who was appointed by Bush, and Judge David Sentelle, who was appointed by President Reagan, ruled in favor of the EPA. Dissenting was Judge Judith Rogers, appointed by President Clinton, who agreed with the environmental groups.

The EPA has signed agreements with 2,600 operations that include 14,000 swine, dairy, egg-laying and broiler chicken farms, including 667 in Iowa. The operations paid a civil penalty of $200 to $100,000, depending on the number and size of the farms, and contributed to an account to be used for monitoring.

The EPA last month launched a $14.6 million, two-year study of 24 sites in nine states by eight universities, including Iowa State University. Iowa is the nation's top producer of hogs and eggs, and a major producer of cattle and poultry, too.

Odors and gas emissions from livestock sites have created one of the state's most emotional and divisive issues as nearby residents complain of nausea, headaches, asthma and other health issues.

Source: DesMoinesRegister.com "For the next few years, they can do anything they want because they are off the hook,"

5m Editor