Friday, August 16, 2013
Environment - "The problem is the state may not have enough rules governing CAFO operations"
That is how this editorial today in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette concludes. It begins:
The prospect of a large industrial hog farm being built near Steuben County lakes has raised questions about the potential threat to those prized natural resources. Indiana Department of Environmental Management officials have scheduled a public meeting in an attempt to address citizens’ concerns, but state regulators’ jurisdiction over large agricultural operations is shockingly limited.
“IDEM looks only at water quality,” said Kim Ferraro, staff attorney and director of water and agricultural policy at the Hoosier Environmental Council. It does not weigh air pollution, odors, traffic congestion, road damage, land use or zoning.
“People come hoping to have IDEM address their questions and concerns and walk out only being told IDEM doesn’t regulate those issues,” Ferraro said. “So, they sometimes end up walking away more frustrated.
“That doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t show up,” she added. “If people show up en masse, it may sway local officials.”
Barry Sneed, an IDEM spokesman, said Steuben County officials must approve zoning for the project. The state agency only approves the confined animal feeding operation permit.
The land already is zoned for agricultural use, but because more than 300 head of hogs are proposed, a special exception is required from the county.
Keith Werner, a third-generation farmer, recently created K and D Contract Pork LLC and wants to build a 4,800-head confined animal feeding operation for hogs on a 60-acre parcel. The property, located at County Roads 200 North and 600 West, is close to several popular lakes.
“If nothing else, people will leave the meeting knowing more than when they came,” Sneed said. “We just uphold the statutes and regulations as they exist. If it falls within the rules, we approve it, and if it doesn’t, we don’t.”
But that is one of Ferraro’s concerns.
“All these facilities have a direct impact on water, whether it’s through direct discharge or through runoff or groundwater contamination,” Ferraro said. “The regulatory system – the rules and laws in place for CAFOs – more serve the interest of CAFOs than they serve the public interests or the environment, and they are very hard to defeat.”
Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 16, 2013 01:07 PM
Posted to Environment