Iowa Public Television

 

States look to improve water quality

posted on February 18, 2000


MORE THAN 4-THOUSAND OF AMERICA'S TOBACCO FARMERS ANNOUNCED THIS WEEK THEY'RE SUING CIGARETTE MANUFACTURERS FOR 69-BILLION DOLLARS.

THE CLASS ACTION SUIT ALLEGES THE COMPANIES MISLED FARMERS INTO HELPING THEM STOP LEGISLATION IN 1998 THAT WOULD HAVE SETTLED STATE LAWSUITS AND PAID TOBACCO FARMERS 28-BILLION DOLLARS TO HELP THEM TRANSITION TO OTHER CROPS.

THE COMPANIES LATER REACHED A 200-BILLION DOLLAR SETTLEMENT WITH THE STATES BUT TOBACCO FARMERS ARE ONLY SCHEDULED TO RECEIVE 5.15 BILLION DOLLARS OVER A 12 YEAR PERIOD.

BASKING IN THE AFTERGLOW OF THEIR OWN VICTORY OVER THE TOBACCO INDUSTRY, MANY STATES ARE FLEXING THEIR LEGISLATIVE MUSCLES TO PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT... AND INCREASINGLY, THEY ARE TARGETING THE LIVESTOCK INDUSTRY AS AN OFFENDER.

WATER CONTAMINATION IS RAISING CONCERNS IN STATEHOUSES ACROSS THE U-S. MARYLAND HAS RECENTLY INTRODUCED A BILL MEANT TO CURB NITROGEN RUNOFF INTO CHESAPEAKE WATERSHED. ELEVATED NITROGEN LEVELS CONTRIBUTED TO A PFISTERIA OUTBREAK IN 1997 AND PERSISTENCE OF THOSE LEVELS HAS PROMOTED ALGAE GROWTH, STUNTING DEVELOPMENT OF BOTH AQUATIC LIFE AND FISHING INCOMES.

THE LEGISLATION TARGETS MARYLAND'S LARGEST CULPRIT OF NITROGEN RUN-OFF...CHICKEN WASTE. THE BILL WOULD RESTRICT FERTILIZER APPLICATION OF THE 400 THOUSAND TONS OF CHICKEN WASTE PRODUCED IN THE STATE EACH YEAR. THE LEGISLATION ALSO REQUIRES THE USE OF NITROGEN FILTERS ON SEPTIC SYSTEMS IN THE CHESAPEAKE WATERSHED. THESE REGULATIONS HAVE RAISED THE IRE OF MANY IN RURAL AREAS WHO RELY ON SEPTIC SYSTEMS AND RAISE POULTRY. IN MARYLAND, AGRICULTURE IS BLAMED FOR 42 PERCENT OF THE NITROGEN RUN-OFF; SEPTIC SYSTEMS CONTRIBUTE THREE PERCENT.

HOG FARMERS IN KANSAS ARE LAMENTING A BILL THAT WOULD TIGHTEN MANURE LAGOON REGULATIONS. THE LAW WOULD HELP ENSURE THE STATE WILL NOT BE LEFT TO FOOT THE CLEAN UP BILL IF HOG FARMERS ABANDON THEIR OPERATIONS. THE LEGISLATION WOULD BRING MORE FARMERS UNDER THE JURISDICTION OF AN EXISTING LAW THAT REQUIRES MONETARY ASSURANCES AND LAGOON CLEAN UP PLANS TO RECEIVE A LAGOON PERMIT.

IN COLORADO THIS WEEK, THE STATE HAS FILED A LAWSUIT AGAINST NATIONAL FARMS, ONE OF THE STATES LARGEST PORK PRODUCERS, ALLEGING THE OPERATION ILLEGALLY SPRAYED SWINE WASTE ON SURROUNDING FIELDS AT LEAST 42 TIMES THIS WINTER. THE SUIT SEEKS 4.4 MILLION DOLLARS IN DAMAGES. THE COMPANY SAYS IT WILL CEASE OPERATIONS IF IT'S FORCED TO PAY THE DAMAGES.

Tags: Energy/Environment livestock news water water quality