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EPA & Green Groups Reach Settlement in Agricultural Pollution Lawsuit

posted on May 27, 2010

Hello, I'm Mark Pearson. Wall Street wrapped up a volatile week Friday, as the Dow Jones Industrials Index posted its worst monthly performance since February of 2009.

After soaring in April, the Dow declined more than 7 percent in May as concerns over debt in Greece rippled through the European economy. The monthly loss of more than 700 points gave the Dow its largest May decline since 1962.

Stocks have been tracking the Euro, the currency of 16 European nations, which plummeted to a four-year low this week.

Closer to home, the National Association of Realtors reported this week that sales of previously owned homes rose 7.6 percent in April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.8 million. Analysts credited government incentives for home buyers for most of the gain. The increased demand fueled a modest inflation in the housing sector as the median price for a new home rose to $173,000 - up 4 percent from last year.

And shares of BP have now declined nearly 30 percent as the embattled company continued its six-week struggle to plug an oil well that has spilled millions of gallons of crude oil in the Gulf of Mexico.

President Obama toured fouled beaches in Louisiana Friday, promising to triple the manpower in places where oil has washed ashore or is about to. More than 20,000 people are already working to contain and clean up what has become the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

The tragedy in the Gulf, obviously, is the president's top priority, but the administration also is addressing environmental issues thousands of miles away.

EPA & Green Groups Reach Settlement in Agricultural Pollution Lawsuit On Tuesday, a settlement was reached between the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, and environmental groups about agricultural runoff. It requires EPA to track down concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, without permits and determine if regulation is necessary.

Last year, the Natural Resources Defense Council, or NRDC, the Sierra Club and the Waterkeeper Alliance filed a federal lawsuit claiming the EPA gave too much discretion to producers in determining which farms needed permits to discharge waste into watersheds.

A representative for the Sierra Club's Environmental Quality Program touted the settlement as a step forward in protecting the nation's waterways. According to the Sierra Club, "The EPA's rules have failed to protect our rivers and lakes from polluting factory farms. Gathering more information to document factory farms' pollution will lay the groundwork for better protection of our waters."

But, some farm advocates are criticizing the agreement. The chief environmental counsel for the National Pork Producers Council, or NPPC, claims the EPA made a deal without talking to farmers, saying "There was no outreach to the other side. It was a one-sided sweetheart deal."

The NPPC says the settlement conflicts with multiple court decisions and if implemented, would lead to a larger concentration of livestock and more factory farms. The organization added pork producers grow their herds to offset the costs of manure management systems the EPA could require.

The NRDC, Sierra Club and Waterkeeper Alliance have a long history of fighting to clean up water pollution blamed on agriculture. And litigation brought by these groups has forced EPA to revise its CAFO's rules twice.

Tags: agriculture Environmental Protection Agency farmers news pollution water quality