Four groups — the Environmental Integrity Project, Sierra Club, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and the Association of Irritated Residents — filed suit May 26 to end an air quality compliance agreement between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and confined animal feeding operations. The lawsuit was filed in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

In it, the groups charge that the agreement enables participating CAFOs to pollute air without fear of penalty or reprisal.

According to a statement released this week by the four organizations, they say they are acting on behalf of tens of thousands of family farmers and rural residents. “Our organizations have been forced to file a lawsuit to challenge the sweetheart deal under which the Bush administration has abandoned America’s rural communities, leaving them to suffer dangerous factory farm pollution without any hope of relief,” the statement says.

Furthermore, it goes on to insist that the EPA use its existing authority to gather emissions data and to enforce clean air laws. The groups also call for a moratorium on new or expanding CAFOs until EPA can gather the emissions data it says it still needs to quantify air emissions.

Livestock organizations believe this effort is a misguided attempt by activists to block sound science from occurring with regard to livestock air emissions. EPA officials in both the Clinton and Bush Administrations and scientists of the National Academy of Sciences agreed that sound scientific data is missing to enforce the current air laws.

The EPA says it would take decades to determine if a farm is in compliance under current regulations.

For more information on the compliance agreement, go to: http://www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/agreements/caa/cafo-agr-0501.html; National Pork Producers Council at www.nppc.org.

Environmental Integrity Project