Remarks from Karen Steuer on CAFO Pollution and the Public Outcry for Stronger Regulation

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Karen Steuer, who directs the Pew Environment Group's campaign to reform animal agriculture, made the following remarks today on the strong public support, and the critical need, for a new rule to limit pollution from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). She spoke at an Environment Maryland news conference in Baltimore.

“The Pew Environment Group has collected thousands of comments from people across the country concerned about the threat that CAFO pollution poses to the health of their local waterways. These residents are concerned for good reason. Some of our nation's most prized waters are at risk from CAFO pollution, but the current permitting process is rife with loopholes allowing many facilities to operate with little or no oversight.

CAFO Algae“According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), drinking water sources for an estimated 43 percent of the U.S. population have suffered some level of pathogen contamination associated with livestock operations. In congressional testimony, the U.S. Geological Survey identified livestock manure as the single largest source of nitrogen pollution in major rivers across the country.

“The Government Accountability Office told Congress in 2008 that the EPA needed a clearly defined strategy to protect air and water quality from CAFOs. Four years and 4 billion tons of manure later, that strategy is still unclear.

“The EPA, working with the states, must move forward on regulations that bring more CAFOs under Clean Water Act oversight and that, where appropriate, extend responsibility for waste management to the large integrators that control the size and locations of CAFOs. In areas where these facilities are extremely dense, caps on their growth should be part of the solution in the absence of new programs to control manure pollution.

“The EPA recently made public its intention to propose new regulations for CAFOs early next year. We applaud that decision and look forward to working with it on the measures. Without the regulations, the government cannot provide assurance to the American public that our waterways are protected from manure mismanagement.”