Recently the EPA ordered an industrial animal factory in West Virginia to clean up massive amounts of chicken manure and other pollution lying around the ground, lest they end up in local streams after it rains. The farm refused to get a permit to address the pollution, so the EPA is in court—with Earthjustice on its side—to force the issue.
Arrayed with the farm against the EPA are the American Farm Bureau Federation and West Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. They know that that EPA’s permit stance here could translate into similar permit requirements for thousands of other industrial animal factories that similarly pollute creeks, rivers and streams coast to coast.
The factory farm and farm bureaus admit the chicken manure and other pollutants end up in protected creeks, rivers and streams but insist their pollution is an “agricultural stormwater discharge,” which is exempted from the Clean Water Act.
This exemption allows industrial animal factories to pollute America’s water but only when the pollution is caused by rain or snow that creates runoff from land areas where waste is applied as fertilizer as part of a permitted nutrient management plan.
In this case, the manure in question comes from an area near where the animals are warehoused and not an area where waste is applied to the land as fertilizer.
A win for the environment is important here if there’s any hope to clean up other industrial animal factories across the country that are producing massive amounts of manure and other pollutants every day that are ending up in the nation’s rivers and streams.
We already suffer a massive dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico in large part because of manure and waste from factory farms located all along the Mississippi basin. Parts of Chesapeake Bay are similarly wiped out due to massive volumes of waste and sewage products running off industrial animal factories located near rivers that drain into the bay.
We need to fix this.