Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, September 20, 2017

Contact:  Hannah Connor, (202) 681-1676,

EPA Report: Agency Failing to Regulate Dangerous Factory Farm Air Pollution

WASHINGTON— A new report from the Environmental Protection Agency’s inspector general lambasted the agency for failing to ensure that America’s factory farms meet legally mandated measures for limiting dangerous air pollution.

The millions of pounds of largely untreated waste from the nation’s massive industrial animal-feeding operations are significant sources of air pollution, including ammonia, particulate matter and the greenhouse gas methane — a major driver of climate change.

“It’s outrageous the Trump EPA is so willing to subject rural Americans to dangerous, debilitating air pollution from factory farms,” said Hannah Connor, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “People living around these massive industrial animal operations are quite literally choking on polluted air. But the EPA is failing to enforce the same air-emission standards required for the rest of the nation’s industries.”

Livestock facilities were required by a 2005 agreement to participate in a national study to develop air emissions monitoring methodologies. In exchange participating facilities were granted civil enforcement protections. Those included a promise by the EPA not to sue for potential violations of the Clean Air Act and other statutes until emissions-estimating methodologies were developed or the agency determined that it could not develop such methods.

Despite completing the study in 2010, the EPA has failed to develop a plan for monitoring air pollution released from the estimated 1.4 trillion pounds of waste produced every year by the nation’s animal-feeding operations.

“Every single day Trump’s EPA shirks its duty to regulate these dangerous air emissions is another day of suffering for people who live and work near these massive industrial animal operations,” said Connor. 

For more than a decade the EPA has said it was delaying enforcement of air pollution from factory farms while it created a plan for estimating those emissions. But the inspector general’s report found the agency has failed to release any such plan.

Factory farm emissions like particulate matter, ammonia and hydrogen sulfide are known to contribute to serious health problems, including acute and chronic respiratory diseases among workers and at-risk people like children and the elderly.

People living near and working on factory farms have reported health issues, including headaches, nausea, diarrhea, respiratory irritation and congestion, heart palpitations and shortness of breath.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.5 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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