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Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) are major sources of pollution. They discharge pollutants and manure runoff into nearby waterways, polluting streams, rivers, creeks, and ultimately groundwater. Five hundred million tons of manure are produced by CAFOs each year and the resulting discharges impact water quality for humans and the health of water ecosystems. The U.S. Geological Survey reports that discharge from CAFO facilities in the Upper Mississippi River Basin are partially to blame for the largest dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico.
Federally-mandated permits prohibit or at least limit the amount of waste that these operations discharge, and give citizens the right to challenge decisions to build or expand CAFOs in their communities. However, in many states, very few factory farms even bother to apply for permits. Existing laws place the burden on the public and underfunded federal and state agencies to catch factory farms in the act of discharging pollutants or prove that such discharges are inevitable.
For the past two years, EIP has been working with citizens to develop innovative and cost-effective ways to document discharges so that states can take enforcement action, get these facilities permitted, and ultimately, stop this pollution. EIP’s goal is to force these factory farms to get permits that effectively prohibit discharges.