Three environmental groups filed a lawsuit last Friday against the Bush Administration, on the basis that the Environmental Protection Agency's new Confined Animal Feeding Operations regulations are not strict enough. The Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council and the WaterKeeper Alliance filed the suit in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, according to an Associated Press report. 

The groups say that they are "worried that new federal rules for factory farms aren't strong enough to stop manure from fouling the nation's waters." The trio claims  that the CAFO regulations weaken the Clean Water Act and threaten public health. 

"The Bush Administration's rule doesn't make polluting factory farms clean up the waste that their animals produce," said Barclay Rogers, a Sierra Club attorney in San Francisco. "That contradicts our belief in cleaning up the messes you make, and violates the protections that are responsible for keeping our rivers and lakes clean." 

The CAFO regulations affect pork operations that produce 2,500 hogs annually and beef cattle operations with at least 1,000 head. Implimentation of the full rules will be phased in through 2006. (For more information see "Know the Rules" in the February issue of Pork magazine.) 

States can manage the program within their boundaries, and can impose stricter regulations than the federal CAFOs outline. Five states– Alaska, Idaho, New Hampshire, Massachusets and New Mexico– will have EPA manage their programs. 

The legal power behind the three environmental groups runs deep. The WKA for example, is tied to several of the attorneys who fought and won the legal battle against large tobacco companies. 

An EPA spokesperson indicated that agency officials are reviewing the lawsuit and are withholding comment at this time. 

Associated Press