Online Staff Report
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The Illinois Senate Environment Committee passed a bill Wednesday, April 18, that would end a unique exemption animal factories have from a requirement that polluters pay to help cover the state’s costs to regulate them. The committee showed its support for the bill by a favorable vote of 6-2.
The Clean Water Funding Fairness Act (H.B. 5642) will establish a fee for permits required under the Clean Water Act for industrial livestock operations to discharge pollution into waters of the U.S. It will provide the Illinois EPA with a revenue source to fund their regulatory program for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), ending the unfair exemption the industry has enjoyed since the inception of Illinois’ permitting program in the 1970s. All other industrial point-sources in the state are required to pay permit fees and, to date, those fees have been paying for the CAFO program.
Karen Hudson, who farms in Peoria County, said: “The livestock industry has been operating on a free ticket to pollute for far too many years with taxpayers and other industries footing the costs. This bill will require a fee only for facilities that pollute surface waters and, thus, will be an incentive for the industry to work towards even better stewardship.”
The bill was originally vehemently opposed by the Farm Bureau and livestock industry associations. However, an agreement was struck on the fee amounts after several months of negotiations between the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) and CAFO interest groups this past winter. This session’s bill represents that agreement, and is now supported not only by the IEPA and the environmental community, but also the livestock industry.
Posted April 20, 2012