Bush's parting gifts

Today I am beginning an occasional series on what George W. Bush will do for corporate interests and major Republican donors during the final weeks of his presidency.

This comes from the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s e-mail newsletter:

EPA Administrator Signs Off on Final CAFO Rule:  Last Friday, as a “Halloween trick” for the environment and public health, EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson signed a revised Clean Water Act final regulation for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) permits and effluent limitations.  EPA revised the CAFO regulations in response to legal challenges to a 2003 CAFO final regulation, brought in the case Waterkeeper Alliance Inc. v. EPA by both environmental organizations and the CAFO sector.  

The revision opens a gaping hole in the 2003 regulation by allowing a CAFO, no matter how large, to self-certify that the CAFO does not “intend” to discharge to the waters of the U.S.   EPA ignored the recommendation of the federal Second Circuit Court of Appeals to establish a regulatory presumption that large-scale CAFOs discharge pollutants.  The presumption would have required that a large-scale CAFO demonstrate to regulatory authorities that it is designed and can be operated to avoid all discharges of regulated pollutants.  

EPA also rejected making improvements in technology that reduce harmful bacteria and other pathogens that threaten public health, a problem aggravated by the development of antibiotic resistant pathogens in CAFOs.  The revised rule does include one improvement required in Waterkeeper — that a CAFO nutrient management plan must be included in a Clean Water Act permit for the CAFO and made available for public review and comment.

EPA is expected publish the revised final regulation in the Federal Register before the end of November. In the meantime, a copy of the unofficial version of the revised regulation is posted on the EPA website. You can also register on the website for a November 19 EPA webcast about the revised CAFO regulation.

SAC will be urging the new Administration to revisit this rulemaking on an expedited basis.

Why am I not surprised that industrial ag profits are a higher priority than the environment and public health?

I hope that the Obama administration will put this on the list of actions to be overturned.  

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