Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Electricity Generated from Chicken Waste Encourages Factory Farming and Pollutes Air

Energy
Electricity Generated from Chicken Waste Encourages Factory Farming and Pollutes Air

Food & Water Watch

The poultry industry, just one small part of our factory farm nation, has a massive waste problem. Today, national consumer group Food & Water Watch criticized the plans of poultry processing giant Perdue Agribusiness and Fibrowatt LLC to build a power plant on Maryland’s Eastern Shore that generates electricity from chicken manure.

“Perdue and Fibrowatt are billing poultry litter incineration as a way to solve the problem of managing excessive amounts of animal waste, but it’s no solution at all,” said Food & Water Watch executive director Wenonah Hauter. “Taxpayers are about to subsidize an industry that has choked the bay with its wastes and now literally will choke our communities’ air.”

Food & Water Watch’s Poultry Incineration: An Unsustainable Solution, a detailed fact sheet, describes the many problems that make this project a bad decision for lawmakers to support, and reveals that poultry litter incineration might produce as much or more toxic air emissions than coal plants.

On the Eastern Shore, factory farms produce an estimated 300,384 tons of poultry litter in excess of what the land can absorb, which, after being spread across fields, usually ends up polluting the Chesapeake Bay and other waterways. But incinerating this waste is not a sustainable solution for a problem created by concentrating too many animals in one place, says Food & Water Watch. Incineration would introduce harmful air pollutants, including carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, arsenic, dioxin and nitrogen oxides that could cause respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, as well as cancer.

Perdue’s and Fibrowatt’s poultry incineration project, like others of its kind being proposed in North Carolina, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Texas, Connecticut and Virginia, could potentially receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in government subsidies and tax credits. But projects like this don’t solve the problem of excessive amounts of animal waste from factory farms. In fact, it serves as an example of how Maryland’s government would rather allow the industry to continue unsustainable farming practices and place the burden on its citizens to solve the industry’s waste woes.

“It’s not surprising that Governor O’Malley supports waste incineration, given his cozy relationship with the industry,” said Hauter. The group recently released 70 emails between the governor and Herb Frerichs, general counsel for Perdue, on a variety of issues, including poultry litter incineration.

Four processing companies rule the poultry sector due to heavy consolidation. Each year, Maryland’s broiler chicken industry produces 700 million pounds of poultry litter. On the Eastern Shore, factory farms produce 300,384 tons of excess poultry litter, which, after being spread across fields, usually ends up polluting the Chesapeake Bay and other waterways.

“Instead of poultry waste incineration that threatens the health of communities across the state, Maryland would be better off working to transition agriculture away from factory chicken farms and towards more diverse, sustainable farming,” said Hauter. “Maryland lawmakers should focus on reining in the unchecked power of big chicken companies.”

To access the report, click here.

Visit EcoWatch's FACTORY FARMING page for more related news on this topic.

A grim new assessment of the world's flora and fungi has found that two-fifths of its species are at risk of extinction as humans encroach on the natural world, as The Guardian reported. That puts the number of species at risk near 140,000.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Flowers like bladderwort have changed their UV pigment levels in response to the climate crisis. Jean and Fred / CC BY 2.0

As human activity transforms the atmosphere, flowers are changing their colors.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A factory in Newark, N.J. emits smoke in the shadow of NYC on January 18, 2018. Kena Betancur / VIEWpress / Corbis / Getty Images

By Sharon Zhang

Back in March, when the pandemic had just planted its roots in the U.S., President Donald Trump directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to do something devastating: The agency was to indefinitely and cruelly suspend environmental rule enforcement. The EPA complied, and for just under half a year, it provided over 3,000 waivers that granted facilities clemency from state-level environmental rule compliance.

Read More Show Less
A meteoroid skims the earth's atmosphere on Sept. 22, 2020. European Space Agency

A rare celestial event was caught on camera last week when a meteoroid "bounced" off Earth's atmosphere and veered back into space.

Read More Show Less
A captive elephant is seen at Howletts Wild Animal Park in Littlebourne, England. Suvodeb Banerjee / Flickr / CC by 2.0

By Bob Jacobs

Hanako, a female Asian elephant, lived in a tiny concrete enclosure at Japan's Inokashira Park Zoo for more than 60 years, often in chains, with no stimulation. In the wild, elephants live in herds, with close family ties. Hanako was solitary for the last decade of her life.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch