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Groups File Motion to Stop Factory Farms from Using Waterways as Dumping Grounds
A coalition of local and national public interest organizations have asked a federal court for permission to participate in a legal action that will decide when Clean Water Act restrictions apply to the release of pollutants in animal manure into local waterways used for recreation, drinking and to support nearby communities.
In the lawsuit, American Farm Bureau Federation and West Virginia Farm Bureau Federation (Farm Bureau) claim that a Clean Water Act permit is not required for discharges of animal waste from a large Hardy County poultry concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO). The organizations, including Potomac Riverkeeper, West Virginia Rivers Coalition, Center for Food Safety, Food & Water Watch and Waterkeeper Alliance, are seeking to ensure that the Farm Bureau-backed poultry CAFO cannot sidestep Clean Water Act standards. Today’s filing asks the court to give the public interest organizations the same right to participate already given to the Farm Bureau.
The motion to intervene in the case was prompted by the CAFO’s refusal to comply with an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) order directing it to obtain a Clean Water Act permit for its discharges of pollutants from animal manure generated at the facility. The CAFO houses 200,000 chickens and contains ditches that direct animal waste from the operation into a tributary of the South Branch of the Potomac River which is listed by the state as “impaired” because of algal blooms and the presence of fecal bacteria. Although the CAFO is not disputing that its waste is discharged into these waters, it sued the agency claiming that the discharges to local waterways are exempt from the Clean Water Act, rather than obtaining a permit. The motion to intervene seeks confirmation that no exemption applies here.
“The issue here is about more than one CAFO polluting one waterway,” said Brent Walls, Upper Potomac River manager for Potomac Riverkeeper. “It’s about defining a way to preserve and protect the right of everyone to have clean rivers and streams, even when they’re near industrial agriculture.”
Poultry CAFOs are recognized as major sources of water pollution caused by discharges of nitrogen, phosphorus and fecal bacteria. Pollutants released from poultry CAFOs contaminate waters making them unsafe for swimming and causing algal blooms which foul and deplete oxygen from the water, endangering human health and aquatic life. For forty years, the Clean Water Act has been the primary way for injured citizens and the government to take action to clean up water pollution and ensure that our nation’s waters are safe for swimming, fishing and drinking.
“We cannot afford to have our delicate and valuable waterways become a dumping grounds for factory farms,” said Angie Rosser, executive director of West Virginia Rivers Coalition. "The public uses and depends on clean water, and has the right to protections from polluters so millions can continue to enjoy the Potomac River and the surrounding region.”
“If the CAFO and the Farm Bureau are successful, it will roll back core Clean Water Act protections that safeguard human health and the environment from unregulated releases of animal waste into our nation’s waterways,” said Marc Yaggi, executive director of Waterkeeper Alliance.
“We fully support EPA’s stand to enforce the Clean Water Act against polluters and to preserve the Potomac River system,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety. “This case should not be used as a tool to create new exemptions from established and vital environmental laws. Factory farms cannot be allowed to use the Potomac—or any waterway—as a private sewer.”
The motion to intervene was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia. Potomac Riverkeeper and West Virginia Rivers Coalition are represented by Columbia Environmental Law Clinic. Waterkeeper Alliance is represented by itself and Earthjustice. Center for Food Safety represents itself and Food & Water Watch.
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‘Companies Should Not Be Allowed to Use Hazardous Ingredients in Products People Use’: Michelle Pfeiffer Speaks Up for Safer Cosmetics
The beauty products we put on our skin can have important consequences for our health. Just this March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that some Claire's cosmetics had tested positive for asbestos. But the FDA could only issue a warning, not a recall, because current law does not empower the agency to do so.
Michelle Pfeiffer wants to change that.
The actress and Environmental Working Group (EWG) board member was spotted on Capitol Hill Thursday lobbying lawmakers on behalf of a bill that would increase oversight of the cosmetics industry, The Washington Post reported.
By Julia Conley
Scientists at the United Nations' intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species — but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.
The climate crisis is a major concern for American voters with nearly 40 percent reporting the issue will help determine how they cast their ballots in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, according to a report compiled by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
Of more than 1,000 registered voters surveyed on global warming, climate and energy policies, as well as personal and collective action, 38 percent said that a candidate's position on climate change is "very important" when it comes to determining who will win their vote. Overall, democratic candidates are under more pressure to provide green solutions as part of their campaign promises with 64 percent of Democrat voters saying they prioritize the issue compared with just 34 percent of Independents and 12 percent of Republicans.
President Donald Trump has agreed to sign a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill that will help Americans still recovering from the flooding, hurricanes and wildfires that have devastated parts of the country in the past two years. Senate Republicans said they struck a deal with the president to approve the measure, despite the fact that it did not include the funding he wanted for the U.S.-Mexican border, CNN reported.
"The U.S. Senate has just approved a 19 Billion Dollar Disaster Relief Bill, with my total approval. Great!" the president tweeted Thursday.
"There was a lot of devastation throughout the state," Governor Mike Parson said at a Thursday morning press conference, as NPR reported. "We were very fortunate last night that we didn't have more injuries than what we had, and we didn't have more fatalities across the state. But three is too many."