It’s now fairly well established that CAFOs, or concentrated animal feeding operations, can pose health risks to the communities around them. So it is somewhat disconcerting, if not altogether surprising, to read that the EPA wants to exempt factory farms from having to report their emissions of toxic gases. And that’s “despite findings by the agency’s scientists that the gases pose a health threat.” The Washington Post reports that the EPA’s flimsy excuse is that “local emergency responders don’t use the reports, making them unnecessary.” Over at the Environmental Economics blog, a writer comments that “[i]n much the same way, I propose that we rollback the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. My local emergency management officials tell me they don’t use THAT one at all.”
Needless to say, the proposed change comes after intense lobbying from big-time agriculture, which wants protection from lawsuits. In fact, the EPA apparently “proposed dropping the farm emissions reporting requirement in the aftermath of lawsuits brought by communities against several big farms sought damages and stricter controls of emissions.” And the agency announced the change in the Federal Register while Congress was on its holiday recess. Classy.