U.S. defers pollution fines for big livestock, poultry farms

US - The Bush administration will let thousands of factory-style farms escape severe penalties for fouling the air and water with animal excrement in exchange for data to help curb future pollution.

The Environmental Protection Agency has signed agreements with 2,681 animal feeding operations in the egg, chicken, turkey, dairy and hog industries. They would be exempt from potential fines of up to $27,500 a day for violations either in the past or over the next four years.

Monday, the EPA said its Environmental Appeals Board had approved the first 20 of those agreements, selecting accords it thought were representative of the whole. EPA officials said those approvals set the stage for the remaining agreements to gain approval quickly.

The agreements include 10 swine-raising operations and 10 operations that raise egg-laying birds. The board said it determined that the agreements were consistent with the Clean Air Act, including its penalty provisions.

Jon Scholl, EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson's agriculture adviser, said the agreements are the most efficient way of obtaining the data needed to determine whether the animal feeding operations are complying with federal air emission laws.

"This is a very important step," he said. "This really paves the way for the study process to begin."

The EPA said its consent agreements with the animal feeding operations will cover more than 6,700 farms in 42 states. Another 7,000 farms are covered through Tyson Foods Inc. (TSN), but because contract growers are independent business owners, the company said only that it will gain the exemptions.

Source: AgricultureOnline
calendar icon 1 February 2006
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