Petition calls for EPA regulation of large dairy and hog farms

Two dozen environmental and consumer groups, including the Sierra Club and Government Accountability Project, petitioned the EPA on Tuesday to regulate large dairy and hog operations under federal air pollution laws. “The EPA has the duty and authority to regulate these methane super-emitters under the Clean Air Act as part of the administration’s larger strategy to prevent catastrophic and irreversible climate change,” said the groups.

Agriculture generally is exempt from air and water pollution laws. The petition said the EPA could use the same section of the Clean Air Act to establish air pollution limits on industrial hog and dairy farms that it used several years ago to propose carbon emission limits on power plants. The petition called for regulation of facilities that house at least 500 cows or 1,000 hogs without access to pasture. Those large farms account for 13% of all U.S. emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas, according to the groups.

The petition also asked EPA to “reject the false solution of burning factory-farm gas” – or methane emissions from animal waste – to power factories. “Proven, pasture-based farming with reduced, sustainable herd sizes…will help restore rural communities, help stabilize the climate, and provide environmental justice,” it said.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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