May 5, 2017

The Conversation heard from three experts not involved with the recent action in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which last month struck down a rule issued by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2008 that exempted livestock farms from reporting emissions from animal waste. Reporting is required to start later this year unless EPA appeals to the Supreme Court.

Dr. Sacoby Wilson, assistant professor in the Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health, has done research in affected communities in North Carolina and Maryland. He points to multiple studies showing the health risks and environmental justice concerns surrounding Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). Dr. Wilson writes, “EPA has been egregiously derelict in not requiring these operations also to obtain permits under the Clean Air Act. The Waterkeeper decision is important because it will force CAFOs to adhere to EPA rules and regulations for monitoring and reporting emissions of pollutants covered by the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. This decision could lead to more monitoring of CAFOs’ toxic air emissions. Obtaining such data will inform local health ordinances and zoning requirements.”

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The Conversation: Court ruling is a first step toward controlling air pollution from livestock farms

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Sacoby Wilson