New Lawsuit Challenges Trump Admin's Failure to Update Slaughterhouse Pollution Regulations
By Andrea Germanos
The Trump administration's decision not to issue upgraded regulations pertaining to pollution discharge from slaughterhouses into waterways sparked a lawsuit Wednesday from a dozen advocacy groups who say the move puts ecosystems and water supplies at risk.
"By not updating these nationwide standards, EPA is rewarding dirty slaughterhouses at the expense of the public," said Sylvia Lam, attorney with the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP).
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York, was brought by animal rights, conservation and community groups including Cape Fear River Watch, Center for Biological Diversity and The Humane Society of the United States.
At issue is the EPA's decision, published in the Federal Register in October, regarding "effluent guidelines." The federal agency said revisions were "not appropriate at this time."
The groups are challenging that assessment. The regulations for slaughterhouse emissions that go directly into waterways are in sore need of an upgrade, they said. It's also problematic, the groups added, that the emissions that first head to sewage treatment plants before being released into waterways have had no guidelines.
There's ample cause for concern.
The nation has thousands of slaughterhouses, many owned by deep-pocketed agriculture giants including Smithfield Foods and Cargill. The majority of these plants, about 4,700, can legally dump processed wastewater directly into waterways or into treatment plants.
An analysis out last year from EIP looked at nearly 100 large meat-processing plants and found that roughly three-quarters of them exceeded their permit limits for nitrogen, fecal bacteria or other pollutants at least once in the time frame studied. The biggest culprit was the Beardstown, Illinois facility owned by JBS. That slaughterhouse dumped 1,850 pounds of nitrogen on average each day into a tributary of the Illinois River. That's the amount contained in raw sewage produced daily by a city with the population roughly the size of Evanston," the Chicago Tribune reported at the time.
Despite the breadth of the problem, federal guidelines haven't changed. The last regulations for the slaughterhouses that put emissions directly into waterways came 15 years ago, the groups said.
"Some of EPA's technological requirements for slaughterhouses date from the mid-1970s," said Earthjustice attorney Alexis Andiman. "Technology has changed a lot since then, and EPA needs to catch up."
Meat processing plants, as animal rights groups noted, have adverse impacts that extend beyond the environment.
"The pace and size of today's slaughterhouses create an extremely dangerous environment, in which animals suffer and toxic waste spews into our waterways," said Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, which is part of the new lawsuit.
"This contaminates water for wildlife and surrounding communities at unprecedented rates," he said. "The government must do its job to protect people, animals, and the environment — and stop serving corporate interests at our expense."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
- New Trump Admin Hog Slaughtering Rule 'Will Result in the Fox ... ›
- 'Dangerous Proposal': USDA Seeking to Replace Government ... ›
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced Monday that 64 high-income nations have joined an effort to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine fairly, prioritizing the most vulnerable citizens, as Science reported. The program is called the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility, or Covax, and it is a joint effort led by the WHO, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
- Trump Denies CDC Director's 2021 Timeline for Coronavirus Vaccine ›
- CDC Tells States to Prepare for a Vaccine Before November Election ›
- Fauci Warns Pre-Pandemic Normalcy Not Likely Until Late 2021 ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Gloria Oladipo
In the face of dangerous heat waves this summer, Americans have taken shelter in air conditioned cooling centers. Normally, that would be a wise choice, but during a pandemic, indoor shelters present new risks. The same air conditioning systems that keep us cool recirculate air around us, potentially spreading the coronavirus.
Toxins in water produced by cyanobacteria was likely responsible for more than 300 elephant deaths in Botswana this year, the country's wildlife department announced on Monday.
How Did Cyanobacteria Poison the Elephants?<p>Cyanobacteria are microscopic organisms common in water and sometimes found in soil. Some cyanobacteria produce neurotoxins.</p><p>The cyanobacteria "was growing in pans" or watering holes, the principal veterinary officer of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Mmadi Reuben, told reporters.</p><p>Reuben said the deaths had "stopped towards the end of June 2020, coinciding with the drying of pans."</p><p>"However we have many questions still to be answered such as why the elephants only and why that area only? We have a number of hypotheses we are investigating," added Reuben.</p><p>Similar elephant deaths have also been recorded in neighboring Zimbabwe.</p>
Climate Change to Blame?<p>Not all cyanobacteria are toxic but scientists say varieties dangerous to humans and animals are occurring more frequently as climate change drives up global temperatures.</p><p>Southern Africa's temperatures are rising at twice the global average, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.</p>
Elephant Paradise?<p>Africa's overall elephant population is declining due to poaching. But Botswana, home to almost a third of the continent's elephants, has seen numbers grow to around 130,000.</p><p>Botswana's government said it was continuing studies into the occurrence of the deadly bacteria. In the winter, elephants hydrate themselves mainly by eating roots and bark, especially of the baobab tree.</p>
- Hundreds of Botswana's Elephants Are Dying From Mysterious Cause ›
- How Botswana's Sudden Elephant Deaths Impact the Species ... ›
- In 'Conservation Disaster,' Hundreds of Botswana's Elephants Are ... ›
By Alexandra Villarreal
As West coast wildfires color the skies dystopian red and orange and an aggressive hurricane season batters the U.S. Gulf coast, college students are demanding their schools take bold action to address the climate crisis.
- NYC Public Schools to Excuse Climate Strikers - EcoWatch ›
- Portuguese Youth Activists Sue 33 Countries Over Climate Crisis ... ›
- Students Rally for Fossil Fuel Divestment at Ohio State University ... ›
The National Hurricane Center has run out of names for tropical storms this year and has now moved on to the Greek alphabet during an extremely active hurricane season. Late Monday night, Tropical Storm Beta became the ninth named storm to make landfall. That's the first time so many named storms have made landfall since 1916, when Woodrow Wilson was president, according to NBC News.
- Extreme Weather Suggests Future Climate Crisis Is Already Here ... ›
- Atlantic Faces Fifth 'Above-Normal' Hurricane Season in a Row ... ›