A “Cow Palace” in Washington State threatens public health with its acres of untreated animal waste.
A city in Iowa spends nearly $1 million a year to keep
illness-causing nitrates, generated by farm runoff, out of public
And who can forget the plight of Toledo, Ohio, residents whose water last summer was so contaminated by farm runoff that they couldn’t even bathe in it, much less drink it?
For decades, America’s chemical-intensive, industrial farming
operations have spewed nitrates and other toxic chemicals, animal waste,
ammonia, antibiotics, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane gases
into public air, waterways and communities.
How do they get away with it? Largely because lobbyists have seen to
it that Big Ag is exempt from many of the rules and regulations that
other industries, and even municipalities, are required to follow under
the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act), the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the Safe Drinking Act, and others.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says it’s trying to
“clarify” the rules outlined in the Clean Water Act, as they apply to
farming operations, through its proposed Waters of the U.S. rule. Opponents of the Waters of the U.S. rule accuse the FDA of trying to eliminate exemptions for farmers, though the EPA insists that’s not the case.
One opponent, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), has introduced HR 594,
a bill intended to stop the Waters of the U.S. rule in its tracks and
preserve exemptions for factory farms and other industrial ag
operations. Gosar’s bill reflects Big Ag’s position
that any attempt to make industrial ag operations play by the same
rules as other polluters represents “massive overreach” by the EPA.
It remains to be seen how the battle to clean up the mess made by
factory farms and other agribusiness operations will play out in
Washington D.C. Meanwhile, a growing number of cities and states are
turning to the courts for help.
Recent court cases—in Des Moines, Iowa, Wisconsin and Washington
State—represent the growing frustration of city and state governments
over the cost of protecting public health and the environment from the
more than 200 million pounds (according to a June 2014 report by the Environment America Research & Policy Center) of toxic chemicals industrial ag dumps into U.S. waterways every year.
If a recent ruling
in Washington State is any indication, courts may be ready to crack
down on factory farms and other ag operations, even if the EPA won’t.
The solution no one in Washington or the courts is talking about?
Eliminating, not just mitigating, ag industry pollution by transitioning
to pesticide-free, chemical-free organic, crop-diverse, non-GMO,
READ MORE HERE
The courts may ultimately play a role in forcing Big Ag to clean up
its act. Still, as citizens, we have a responsibility to continue to try
to protect our drinking water by pressuring government officials to
enforce existing regulations, and to write stronger ones. But the bigger challenge is how to steer public opinion and public
policy in the direction of sane science—science that is clearly telling
us that earth and the humans who inhabit it are reaching, may indeed
have already surpassed, their limit to survive what has become an
unprecedented toxic overload, generated by a farming system gone mad.
SOYMB reiterates our position: this is just one of the areas of production, manufacturing, mining, resource accumulation, etc. where the capitalist system's assumption is that externalities are not their responsibility. Profit is the mantra and any negative effects are to be borne or taken care of by society.
Courts may well be able to play a part in mitigating some of theses effects in some areas but as history shows there is a continual tug of war between production for profit and society, ie the population in general, and the only sure way to reverse this trend is for a complete system change.