The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) exempted all agribusiness in December—no matter how industrialized, no matter the animal product produced—from having to declare noxious emissions produced by animal waste. The EPA says that reporting these emissions is unnecessary, regardless of the toxicity level, since a federal response to these reports would be unlikely.
While the decision may mean a few less administrative headaches for small farmers, it ultimately lets multimillion dollar factory farms avoid vital responsibilities under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), both of which protect surrounding ecosystems and communities from veritable poisoning.
Though agricultural operations would still have to report levels of any other toxic substance leeching into the ground, water or air, levels of ammonia and methane found in animal waste are often significant enough to markedly damage animal, plant and human life.
Flying in the face of this lame duck relaxing of ag standards, Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) vowed to investigate “what remedies are available to block or reverse this regulatory change,” according to the Wall Street Journal. The Congressman also asserted in a written statement that the EPA action “is nothing more than a giveaway to Big Agribusiness at the expense of the public health and of local communities located near large factory farms.”