Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Air pollution from CAFOs is a killer; WI GOP pols love them

This data-driven Washington Post story disclosing that polluted air from big animal feeding operations kills more Americans annually than airborne particles from coal mines deserves plenty of attention in states like Wisconsin which have many such industrial-scale farming operations:

Air pollution from farms leads to 17,900 U.S. deaths per year, study finds

The first-of-its-kind report pinpoints meat production as the leading source of deadly pollution 

Animal agriculture is the worst emitter, researchers say, responsible for 80 percent of deaths from pollution related to food production. Gases associated with manure and animal feed produce small, lung-irritating particles capable of drifting hundreds of miles. 

These emissions now account for more annual deaths than pollution from coal power plants. Yet, while pollution from power plants, factories and vehicles is restricted under the Clean Air Act, there is less regulation of air quality around farms. 

Regrettably, this report will not come as a surprise to numerous Wisconsin residents and organizations which have been battling poorly-controlled Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, (CAFOs), for year over water water issues - 

2016 review by the state's Legislative Audit Bureau found significant problems with the program's ability to keep up with its workload. One illustration of this issue: In 2017, one-third of CAFOs were operating under expired permits because of a permitting backlog. Two years later, the DNR has closed the gap somewhat but remains unable to keep up with oversight. Nearly a quarter of CAFOs were operating with expired permits in June 2019.

- but CAFOs have strong support from Republican politicians who cater to the CAFOs and put loyalty to donors and the industry ahead of people and public health - 

Remember that Vos-Gerald are the same two captive enablers of Big Ag special interests who just three months ago signed a public letter - - you can see and read it here - -

Vos, Fitzgerald go to bat for 'existing and expanding CAFO operations'

- - lauding the continued expansion of the very industrial-scale /groundwater-draining/drinking water contaminating/barely-regulated dairying operations known as CAFOs whose production and state-promoted, politically-driven market advantages have helped push small farms and dairies out of business.

I noted Walker and his party's ideologically-driven ag policy failure in part nine of an environmental blog series 

Walker's 8-year war on Wisconsin's environment. Part 9. CAFOs 
You may remember that I began this series focusing on moves Walker made in the first hours of his administration to ease wetland protections and even to suspend the rules so a campaign donor could quickly get a permit to fill and wetland and build a development.
Fast forward to this year, when Wisconsin Democracy Campaign discovered that major Walker donors were getting permits basically in perpetuity to acquire all the groundwater they wanted to fuel their CAFOs.
The bigger the CAFOs, the bigger the Walker-driven supply/over-supply of milk, driving out smaller farms and leaving the big operators more ready to weather that storm.

Here is a link to the entire, 21-part series, which takes note of perhaps-forgotten Vos play to protect CAFOs, including one of Wisconsin's largest, from a modicum of public-interest oversight.

Manure flowing from a Kewaunee CAFO is a known water contaminant. A new story shows air pollution from CAFOs is a major killer across America.

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