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Court dismisses case on regulating CAFO emissions

District court threw out case because HSUS and other plaintiffs didn't give EPA 180-day notice.

A U.S. District Court dismissed a lawsuit brought by The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and other activist groups against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency alleging that the agency would not regulate concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).

The groups requested in 2009 that EPA begin rule-making under the Clean Air Act (CAA) to regulate air emissions from CAFOs. The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Circuit threw out the case because the plaintiffs didn’t give EPA 180 days of notice of their intent to sue, which is required by the CAA.

In 2006, nearly 1,900 pork producers and other livestock and poultry farmers entered into a series of legally binding consent agreements with EPA, settling what the agency believed were issues over air emissions associated with livestock production. The agreements included a study of emissions from farms. Purdue University conducted the study and gave the data to EPA, which has been reviewing the data and working to develop a tool producers can use to estimate air emissions.

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) noted that process was impeded by the same activist groups that brought the lawsuit when they opposed efforts by the livestock industry to help set up a science advisory panel of experts in animal systems to assist with EPA’s effort. The agency’s existing science advisory board issued findings on the emissions data in 2013, saying they were “unreliable.”

HSUS indicated that it would refile the lawsuit after providing the 180-day notice.

Michael Formica, assistant vice president and legal counsel for domestic policy at NPPC, said HSUS will only be able to refile the lawsuit if EPA takes no action on the petition. HSUS has said EPA is “twiddling its thumbs” in regard to not releasing the CAFO study, according to a report in Capital Press.

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