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EPA (Finally) Proposes Measures to Protect Farmworkers from Pesticide Exposure

When Mario Vargas showed up at the Washington, D.C., offices of representatives from his home state of Ohio in July, he shared stories from farmworkers who are getting sick from pesticides. Joined by his daughter and girlfriend, they made the rounds talking about how it feels to inhale pesticides while pregnant, how farmworkers don’t know what their basic rights are, and how many workers are afraid to tell the truth about what is really going on in the fields. Read more

In Bristol Bay, the Science is Clear, Time for EPA Action to Protect Salmon, Jobs, & Our Way of Life

I live in Washington State, but for 20 years have relied on wild Alaska salmon to earn a living. Many of my friends earn their livings catching the sockeye salmon of Alaska’s Bristol Bay. The silver-sided fish fill our boats and feed the world. Yesterday the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its final watershed assessment for Bristol Bay, outlining the potential impacts of large-scale mining on the most productive and economically important sockeye salmon fishery in the world. Read more

Above the Fold: EPA, Protect Bees!

Inaction? Intransigence? Negligence? Whatever the right word, we’re reminded that the U.S. is behind the curve when it comes to protecting bees. Yesterday, Europe’s restrictions on bee-harming pesticides went into effect. Today, in a full-page advertisement in the New York Times and six other major papers, Pesticide Action Network (PAN) and over 60 other food, farm, faith, and investor groups called on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take action to protect bees. Read more

End of April to Comment on Corn Resistant to Agent Orange Herbicide 2,4-D

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is currently deciding whether or not to approve an application by Dow Chemical for its controversial genetically engineered (GE) corn variety that is resistant to the hazardous herbicide 2,4-D. 2,4-D and the still more toxic 2,4,5-T formed Agent Orange, the defoliant used in the Vietnam War. After receiving pressure from organizations like the Center for Food Safety (CFS), the USDA extended its public comment period until April 27–just a few weeks from today. There is overwhelming public opposition to this crop. To date, 155,000 comments opposing approval of 2,4-D corn have been collected by environmental, health, and farm groups. Read more

First-Ever Court Victory Holds CAFO Accountable for Water Pollution

In a precedent-setting decision last month that received scant national coverage, a federal district court judge in Washington State ordered a CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation), also known as a factory farm, to monitor groundwater, drainage and soil for illegal pollution resulting from its grossly inadequate manure management practices in violation of the Clean Water Act. This first-ever ruling holding a CAFO accountable for its pollution was a result of a lawsuit by the nonprofit Community Association for Restoration of the Environment (CARE) against the Nelson Faria Dairy in Royal, Washington. The ruling upholds the terms of a 2006 settlement CARE had with the dairy’s previous owners, which the current owners subsequently ignored. Read more

The Land of Stinkin’: When a Mega Dairy Takes Over

[editor’s note: You can see Dan Imhoff speak about CAFO’s tonight at NYU, read here for more details.]

Imagine a series of pits that, if combined, would cover an area 40 acres in size carved 20 feet deep. Laid out as a perfect square, each side is 1,320 feet long, enough to hold 16 football fields. Now imagine it full of millions of gallons of festering manure from over 5,000 dairy cows plunked down into rural Jo Daviess County in northern Illinois. Imagine also, that these cesspools would be excavated from a porous Karst geological formation, with the propensity to percolate directly into the groundwater, along with a cocktail of nitrates, phosphorous, hydrogen sulfide, bacteria, and other substances like antibiotic drugs. Read more

The EPA: Cleaning Up Crappy Water Since 1970

This is a story about crap–literally, tons of it. Piling up in Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) and being sprayed onto farm fields, animal manure is polluting the nation’s waterways and is nearly impossible to regulate.

Last week, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals handed down a ruling [PDF] reversing the decision by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requiring CAFOs to obtain a Clean Water Act permit in order to pollute. The court did uphold the EPA’s right to fine those that do pollute after the fact. Here’s the rub: Farmers are not responsible for manure that exits their property and enters waterways when it rains. Read more