A big stink over cow paddies

Nancy Marshall-Genzer Mar 20, 2008


Doug Krizner: Did you know that farms are required to report emissions of gases from animal waste? Manure gives off ammonia and hydrogen sulfide.
Well, the EPA wants to change the law, because tracking these toxins is an unnecessary burden for farmers. But environmentalists say they’re making people sick. Nancy Marshall Genzer reports.

Nancy Marshall Genzer: Sure, we hold our noses when we drive past a stinky field full of cows, but are cow paddies dangerous?

Bill Becker of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies says yes.

Bill Becker: Exposure to ammonia triggers respiratory problems, causes nasal/eye irritation, and in acute amounts can be fatal.

Some EPA scientists agree. Still, on December 28, the EPA proposed new rules. Farms wouldn’t have to report air pollution from manure.

The EPA’s Barry Breen says the agency isn’t contradicting its scientists.

Barry Breen: We’re not proposing anything that would change the kind of regulation on air emissions from ag operations. It’s just the reporting.

But environmentalists say the reports are one of the few ways to hold big factory farms accountable for their pollution. The public has about another week to comment on the proposed rule.

In Washington, I’m Nancy Marshall Genzer for Marketplace.

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