Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down Unhealthy Factory Farm Pollution Rule
March 1, 2005
On February 28, 2005, the Federal Court of Appeals in New York issued a ruling in effect nationwide that the 2003 Bush administration rule allowing factory farms to police themselves violated the Clean Water Act. Under the illegal rule, large “concentrated animal feeding operations” (CAFOs) were allowed to store and spray millions of gallons of liquefied manure into open pits and onto open fields, and to determine their own rate for doing so without EPA approval, public review, or enforceability. This decision requires all CAFOs to submit their manure plans for agency approval, public review and comment, and incorporation into permits. Any permits that are issued must achieve water quality standards. In addition, the EPA must rewrite its rule to limit pathogen discharges, the viral-carrying pollution that under the original rule had not been limited.
The news is a great victory for rural communities across America that have been devastated by factory farm pollution. Now, large corporate factory farms will be forced to take responsibility for the pollution they create as well as to set up good management plans, and the limits on their pollution will be open to the public and enforceable.
December 12, 2004
The Sierra Club is hopeful that things are looking up for rural communities devastated by pollution from factory farms. The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held a hearing in New York City on December 13, 2004 to review the Bush administration’s lax new rules for giant feedlots. The three judge panel appeared genuinely concerned about the lack of water quality protection and public participation in the new permitting scheme for giant factory farms nationwide. A decision is expected from the court in the next few months. Stay tuned.
March 5, 2004
The Club and its coalition partners filed their opening brief in a case that will determine the future of efforts at the federal level to control pollution from factory farming. The Club sued the Bush administration over its weakening of the Clean Water Act as applied to giant "concentrated animal feeding operations," which confine tens of thousands of livestock animals in facilities which create enormous amounts of water and air pollution. So bad are these factory farms that the American Public Health Association recently adopted a resolution urging federal, state, and local government health agencies to impose a moratorium on all new facilities. The case is so important that sixteen different groups have also weighed in as "friends of the court" with legal briefs supporting the Club's challenge.
May 1, 2003
In February 2003, the Club filed a lawsuit challenging the Administration’s revisions of rules governing giant feedlot farm operations, which threaten America's drinking water, rivers, and lakes. These animal factories confine thousands of animals for their entire lives and produce staggering amounts of animal waste (2.7 trillion pounds per year nationwide). In most cases, this waste is collected in giant lagoons and subsequently sprayed onto fields where it often leaks into rivers and streams, contaminating drinking water and spreading disease. These facilities resemble factories more than farms, and they should be regulated as industrial sites. The Administration’s new rules weaken existing safeguards and would let the industry police itself.
Details and Documents:
Decision by U.S. Court of Appeals
February 28, 2005
See other "Safeguarding Communities" cases.