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Published: Friday 09 August, 2013

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As the federal government grapples with responses to the climate change problem, theres an effort afoot on Capitol Hill to give a free pass to animal agribusiness. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has determined that worldwide animal agriculture accounts for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, and with the United States raising 10 billion of the worlds 65 billion land an canadian goose parka imals used for meat, eggs, and milk, our industry is by far the largest contributor to the problem. In fact, agriculture would not only get a free pass, but theyd actually get further subsidiescredits under the cap and trade systemfor remedial actions they take voluntarily. So no pain and all gain. Whats more, during the annual funding process for the Environmental Protection Agency, certain farmstate lawmakers, led by Sen. Sam Brownback RKan. and Rep. Tom Latham RIowa, offered amendments to prevent the EPA from being allowed to gather any data on the contribution that animal agriculture makes to climate change.

This is unconscionable. Policy makers should be informed by science and data, yet some lawmakers are so in the pocket of agribusines canadian goose parka s that they dont even want data gathered. These lawmakers are working against the principles of sound science and transparency.

We are tired of seeing this political spectacle play out, and earlier this week, we joined with a canadian goose parka number of environmental and public health organizations to petition the EPA to regulate air pollution, including greenhouse gases, from CAFOs. The EPA does not currently require such animal factories to meet any testing, performance, or emission standards under the Clean Air Act, which defines the agencys responsibilities for protecting and improving our nations air quality. The EPA says there are 18,800 CAFOs, with millions of pigs, cattle, and chickens kept often in intensive confinement. The agency has announced that beginning in January, the largest CAFOs those emitting more than 25,000 tons of greenhouse gases from manure will have to report on their emissions, along with other major sources such as oil refineries and coal plants.

CAFOs are significant contributors to air pollution. Their emissions of methane and nitrous oxidetwo greenhouse gasesas well as hydrogen sulfide and ammonia, represent a serious threat to public and environmental health. Alarmingly, emissions from these agricultural smokestack operations are on the rise, especially as the animal agribusiness sector becomes more concentrated and oligarchical.

The petition explains that reducing emissions of major pollutants from CAFOs, massive industrial facilities confining animals in warehouselike conditions, will improve human health, reduce suffering of farm animals, protect habitat for wildlife, and reduce the effects of climate change and other environmental problems. Regulating air pollution from CAFOs will also create a strong incentive for new CAFOs to employ production methods that reduce emissions.

Importantly, the petition is geared only toward the top industrial level polluters. In addition to being an environmental and public health blight, CAFOs economically harm small farms committed to better animal welfare and environmentally sustainable practices. Once CAFOs have to comply with environmental and health standards, we will have a level playing field that helps small farmers compete.

Like so much of our work, the CAFO petition puts us at the intersection of animal welfare, environmental protection, public health, and transparency. The terrible truth about CAFOs is that they threaten not just the quality of life, but life itself. It is reasonable to expect the federal government to pursue the common good and to hold this industry no more or less accountable than other polluters. To entirely exempt them makes a mockery of the legislative process, and reinforces the perception that Congress does not do whats right, but what is ordered up by special interests. canadian goose parka