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Activist groups sue EPA for unlawfully dropping industrial livestock farming rule

Posted: September 3, 2013 |   Comments

( Environmental and animal welfare groups have filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration for dropping a rule in 2012 that would have let the Environmental Protection Agency collect information about industrial livestock farms.

"The animal agriculture industry has benefited from EPA's lack of information for decades, and has successfully opposed efforts to increase transparency," Jonathon Lovvorn, a senior vice president at the Humane Society, one of several groups alleging that the administration's choice to ignore this rule lacked legal basis, said in a statement this week."This certainly is not good for animals, humans or the environment; it is only good for massive industrialized farms."

The rule, initially proposed in 2011, would have given the EPA the ability to collect information about industrial livestock farm's addresses and size and the number of animals kept at the facilities.

The groups suing the EPA say that many of those facilities, which often house animals in packed conditions, can discharge pollutants like hormones, metals and antibiotics into the water.

Livestock groups feared that the rule constituted a regulatory overreach and would have provided opportunities for farmers to be harassed and attacked by activists. The EPA withdrew the rule last summer and has since stated that it would gather such information from state and other federal agencies.

However, that information is insufficient to ensure that both animals and the public are adequately protected. "The data from the states is inconsistent, incomplete and, ultimately, will not allow the agency to finally begin the process of properly regulating these highly polluting facilities," said Wenonah Hauter, the executive director of Food & Water Watch, which is also taking part in the lawsuit.

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