Farm Emissions Rules Challenge Rejected

DES MOINES - Farms can't be sued over the pollution or odors they emit as long as they have entered into an agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency, a federal appeals court ruled.
calendar icon 19 July 2007
clock icon 3 minute read

The ruling, issued Tuesday, was a rebuke to environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, which sued to change an EPA policy they say allows animal feeding operations to skirt environmental laws and only pay nominal fines.

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"The EPA decided to give them blanket amnesty in the form of, 'You send us a check ... and we'll guarantee that no one will sue you,'"

David Bookbinder, senior attorney for the Sierra Club.

The petitioners maintained that animal feeding operations pollute the air, emit terrible odors and attract hordes of flies that leave droppings on everything from cars to furniture.

They argued that the EPA did not follow proper rule-making procedures in crafting an agreements to allow farms to avoid legal punishment and lawsuits for violating air emissions requirements. The agreements requires the farms to pay a civil penalty and give the government permission to monitor the facility for an EPA study of emissions.

Nearly 2,600 animal feeding operations, the majority of them hog farms, have entered into agreement with the EPA.

"The EPA decided to give them blanket amnesty in the form of, 'You send us a check ... and we'll guarantee that no one will sue you,'" said David Bookbinder, senior attorney for the Sierra Club.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, however, found in its 2-1 ruling that the EPA was exercising a valid use of the agency's enforcement discretion by entering into agreements with the farms.

Source: TheGuardian

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