Pages tagged "Pollution"
Oregon would have the toughest dairy laws in the nation if two bills up for Legislative consideration next year are adopted
Oregon would have the toughest dairy laws in the nation if two bills up for Legislative consideration next year are adopted.
The legislation was proposed in response to a regulatory disaster at Lost Valley Farm, a mega-dairy in Eastern Oregon that was allowed to open before completing construction, and was subsequently cited and fined for more than 200 environmental violations.
Critics say that situation showed the state’s permitting process, environmental oversight and enforcement powers are inadequate.
“Lost Valley showed us how horribly wrong things can go given our current laws,” said Amy van Saun, staff attorney at the Center for Food Safety in Portland.
Tami Kerr, executive director of the Oregon Dairy Farmers Association, said she could not comment until she had more time to examine the bills. But she said that the situation at Lost Valley was not representative of dairies across Oregon.
The proposals would apply to large dairies, defined as those with at least 2,500 cows, or those with at least 700 mature cows that do not get seasonal access to pasture.
Lost Valley is permitted to have 30,000 cows. It’s close to Threemile Canyon Farms'three dairies, which together have 70,000 cows. All supply the nearby Tillamook Cheese factory.
Both bills declare large dairies to be industrial, rather than agricultural or farming operations. Under such a scenario, those farms wouldn’t qualify for regulatory exemptions available to farmers under the state’s right-to-farm and other laws.
That would allow local communities to have input into siting decisions and enact health and safety ordinances restricting or prohibiting air and water emissions.
“In terms of the size and impact of these facilities, it just makes sense that they be treated accordingly, with the amount of pollution they create and the liabilities they create,” van Saun said. “We need to rethink what we consider farming and whether we want to have this loophole.”
Photo from Pixabay.
The U.S. House of Representatives voted Wednesday to pass a bill that dismantles a pesticide permitting system. Opponents are calling the Republican-led legislation the “Poison Our Waters Act.”
Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH), the sponsor of H.R. 953, said the permitting system for the use of pesticides under the Clean Water Act is redundant. The legislation, whose real name is the “Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2017,” will lift bureaucratic burdens on farmers, ranchers, and local pest control agencies, Gibbs said.
Under the bill, anyone applying a pesticide that the Environmental Protection Agency has approved under the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act would no longer require a Clean Water Act “general permit.”
Currently, though, the overwhelming majority of pesticide applicators can get a general permit with very few restrictions on spraying. Only the largest-volume applicators must receive a more stringent individual permit. No permit under the Clean Water Act is required for normal farming operations.
In a 256–165 vote, the bill passed the Republican-dominated House on Wednesday. The bill now heads to the Republican-controlled Senate. Twenty-five House Democrats voted in favor of the bill. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), who represents Bucks County and portions of Montgomery County north of Philadelphia, was the only Republican to vote against the bill.
“This bill takes away the public’s right to know about toxic pesticides we may be exposed to,” Mae Wu, senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council’s health program, said in a statement emailed to ThinkProgress. “It eliminates the current commonsense requirement that communities should have access to basic information about what’s being sprayed in waters that can pose risks for public health.”
Pesticide manufacturers have long championed a bill similar to Gibbs’ that would allow pesticides to be sprayed directly into water bodies. Nearly 2,000 U.S. waterways do not meet water quality standards because of pesticide contamination, according to environmental group Earthworks.
“To get to the bottom of and address this pesticide pollution, we need to know what is causing it — but this bill does the exact opposite, making it harder to keep our communities safe and putting people’s health at risk,” Earthjustice senior legislative counsel Marjorie Mulhall said in a statement.
A more apt name for the bill would be the “Poison Our Waters Act,” said the League of Conservation Voters (LCV), which said the bill’s sponsors are “trying to take away our right to know when pesticides are sprayed into our waterways.”
Statement from Ivan Maluski, Policy Director, Friends of Family Farmers, on the March 31 decision by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and Oregon Department of Agriculture to issue a permit approving a controversial new 30,000-cow mega-dairy in Eastern Oregon
“The state’s decision to grant the water pollution permit for a new 30,000 head mega-dairy in eastern Oregon is disappointing but not surprising. Two state agencies have now spent countless hours and public dollars to be able to permit this operation, which improperly began construction last fall because it assumed today’s outcome was inevitable.”
“We are particularly disappointed that the state did not conduct an economic analysis to look at the impact to small and mid-sized dairy farms in Oregon should this operation be built. Oregon has lost over 75% of its dairy farms, mostly small and mid-sized, since the first mega-dairy came to Oregon in 2002. These huge operations create an economic climate of boom and bust milk prices that have made it harder and harder for family dairy farms to survive.”
“This decision also exposes Oregon’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ approach for air pollution from mega-dairies. We would expect this kind of approach to major sources of air pollution from the Trump Administration, not Governor Kate Brown. A consensus proposal the dairy industry signed on to a decade ago would require air pollution monitoring and regulation for this operation, but to date, no such program exists. We urge the Legislature to move forward with SB 197 to address the significant air pollution issues this operation is likely to create.”
Photo from Flickr.
The idea that pesticides are essential to feed a fast-growing global population is a myth, according to UN food and pollution experts
The idea that pesticides are essential to feed a fast-growing global population is a myth, according to UN food and pollution experts.
A new report, being presented to the UN human rights council on Wednesday, is severely critical of the global corporations that manufacture pesticides, accusing them of the “systematic denial of harms”, “aggressive, unethical marketing tactics” and heavy lobbying of governments which has “obstructed reforms and paralysed global pesticide restrictions”.
The report says pesticides have “catastrophic impacts on the environment, human health and society as a whole”, including an estimated 200,000 deaths a year from acute poisoning. Its authors said: “It is time to create a global process to transition toward safer and healthier food and agricultural production.”
The world’s population is set to grow from 7 billion today to 9 billion in 2050. The pesticide industry argues that its products – a market worth about $50bn (£41bn) a year and growing – are vital in protecting crops and ensuring sufficient food supplies.
“It is a myth,” said Hilal Elver, the UN’s special rapporteur on the right to food. “Using more pesticides is nothing to do with getting rid of hunger. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), we are able to feed 9 billion people today. Production is definitely increasing, but the problem is poverty, inequality and distribution.”
The Port of Portland is suing Monsanto Co. and companies Solutia Inc. and Pharmacia LLC for PCB contamination of the Willamette River, the Columbia River and McBride Slough.
Attorneys representing the port filed the 29-page lawsuit Wednesday, Jan. 4, in U.S. District Court. It's the 10th public entity in the West to sue the company for PCB contamination. Between March 2015 and January 2016, similar lawsuits have been filed by the San Diego Unified Port District and the cities of San Jose, Oakland, Berkeley, Spokane and Seattle.
The port is asking the court for unspecified damages. It could cost an estimated $1.4 billion to clean up the contamination in the Portland Harbor, a federal Superfund site along the Willamette River between the Fremont Bridge and into North Portland.
Photo from Wikimedia Commons.