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Guest Column: Fight industrial farms now!
• Dec. 31 deadline
By Danielle Diamond
Illinois Citizens for Clean Air & Water
Please circulate this far and wide. It’s an action alert for comments USEPA is seeking on the impacts of their concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) Clean Water Act regulations on small businesses, etc. There are rumors that the comment period will be extended for another month or two, but as of today no extension notice has been issued. As such, we’re proceeding as if the deadline is Dec. 31 and are encouraging people to submit comments by then. Below are some talking points prepared by our friends at the Environmental Integrity Project and the Humane Society that we’re trying to get out there to generate public interest before the deadline. Please consider submitting comments and circulate to your CAFO contacts! Thank you!!
The Environmental Protection Agency is currently accepting public comments on the economic impact of its clean water regulations for factory farms on small businesses. Please take a minute to send a short message to EPA telling them that strong oversight of concentrated animal feeding operation (“CAFO”) or factory farm pollution is good for family farmers and other small businesses that rely on healthy rural communities and clean water.
You can send your comment to EPA by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org by midnight on Dec. 31st. In your comments, let EPA know that you are commenting on the “CAFO 610 Review, Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2012-0813.”
As required by the “Regulatory Flexibility Act,” EPA must review the economic impact of its rules on small businesses within 10 years of finalizing them. EPA is currently reviewing regulations it established in 2003, which strengthened requirements for factory farm water pollution permits. The Regulatory Flexibility Act’s definition of “small businesses” includes many large factory farms.
EPA considers 5 factors when evaluating the economic impact of its rules:
1) the continued need for the rule
2) the nature of complaints or comments received concerning the rule from the public
3) the complexity of the rule
4) the extent to which the rule overlaps, duplicates or conflicts with other Federal rules, and, to the extent feasible, with State and local governmental rules
5) the length of time since the rule has been evaluated or the degree to which technology, economic conditions, or other factors have changed in the area affected by the rule.
Here are some points to make to EPA:
• EPA should consider the economic impact of these rules on small farmers, not only on CAFOs that are actually regulated under the Clean Water Act. Family farmers, rural communities, and recreational water users have borne the economic impact of weak and incomplete permitting, as factory farms get a windfall from polluting illegally.
• There is a continued need for EPA’s rule. Factory farm water pollution persists in rural communities across the country, even a decade after EPA established regulations and began requiring permits.
• EPA’s current regulations do not go far enough. Thousands of CAFOs have managed to avoid permitting requirements in the 10 years since EPA established the rules it is reviewing, and EPA should strengthen permitting requirements and make sure that states are actually implementing the rules.
• The factory farm lobby complains that the CAFO rules are burdensome, but most CAFOs have avoided permits, so the economic impact of the rules on most facilities has been non-existent. Many factory farms have also been given public funding to comply with the law, which significantly reduces the economic impact of the rules on facilities that are permitted (while placing that economic burden on citizens).
• EPA’s rules are not complex, and complying with the permitting requirements does not impose an unreasonable burden on factory farms. In fact, factory farm permits do not require even the basic water quality monitoring required of almost every other type of polluter regulated under the Clean Water Act. States and industry groups have also provided many resources to help CAFOs come into compliance, reducing the burden even further.
• Without EPA’s Clean Water Act regulations for factory farms, the industry would be almost completely unregulated. Even with EPA’s regulations many states fail to do what EPA requires and have not issued permits. The rules fill a critical gap in the Clean Water Act, and do not duplicate or conflict with other state or federal programs.
• Nothing has happened in the past decade that makes compliance with EPA’s permit requirements difficult or economically impractical. EPA should require more protective manure management and consider requiring new technologies to reduce pollution.
Questions? Contact Danielle Diamond, Attorney, Illinois Citizens for Clean Air & Water, 181 Illinois Street, Crystal Lake, IL 60014, 815.403.0278, email@example.com.
From the Dec. 26, 2012-Jan. 1, 2013, issue