Cleaning Up Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations Permit Rules

Some of our nation’s most prized waterways—such as the Great Lakes, Chesapeake Bay and Mississippi River—as well as streams, estuaries and wells, are at risk from pollution from Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs).These facilities generate tons of manure that can contain excess nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus; pathogens, including bacteria or viruses; sediment; antibiotics; and metals, such as copper or arsenic. All of these pollutants can threaten human health, water quality, and wildlife. 

While diversified farms can apply manure to crops as fertilizer, the amount of manure that CAFOs generate often exceeds local crop needs.   Studies show that the problems of excess manure – associated with the presence of large animal facilities – are apparent in numerous areas around the country. 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is charged with protecting our waters from such pollutants, but its regulations have not kept pace with the growth of CAFOs or the pollution they generate.  The Clean Water Act’s current permitting process is rife with loopholes, allowing many facilities to operate with little or no oversight. 

Spotlight on Mental Health

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Learn the Basics of Broadband from Our Limited Series

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How does broadband internet reach our homes, phones, and tablets? What kind of infrastructure connects us all together? What are the major barriers to broadband access for American communities?

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What Is Antibiotic Resistance—and How Can We Fight It?

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Antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also known as “superbugs,” are a major threat to modern medicine. But how does resistance work, and what can we do to slow the spread? Read personal stories, expert accounts, and more for the answers to those questions in our four-week email series: Slowing Superbugs.

Explore Pew’s new and improved
Fiscal 50 interactive

Your state's stats are more accessible than ever with our new and improved Fiscal 50 interactive:

  • Maps, trends, and customizable charts
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Welcome to the new Fiscal 50

Key changes include:

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  • A Budget Threads feature that offers Pew’s read on the latest state fiscal news.

Learn more about the new and improved Fiscal 50.