Friday, February 25, 2011

Report Says Agribusiness Blocks Clean Water Efforts

Penn Environment has released a report saying that agribusiness spends millions nationally and at the state level on campaign contributions and lobbying to block clean water efforts.

Clean Water Advocate Erika Staaf says agribusiness includes some of the biggest contributors to water pollution and is one of the most influential special interest lobbies, with one lobbyist for every 4 legislators in Washington.

Staaf says the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau used its influence with the legislature for a bill enabling farmers to appeal local ordinances directly to the attorney general. Since passage in 2005, then Attorney General Tom Corbett, who is now governor, filed more than 30 lawsuits against townships trying to regulate factory farm practices, facilitating the siting and operation of many factory farms.

According to Staaf, factory farms foul waterways if the large quantities of manure are not safely stored and when too much manure is applied to cropland and runs off into streams, so regulation is imperative.

Staaf says Representatives Kelly, Thompson, Gerlach, Meehan, Fitzpatrick, Shuster, Marino, Barletta, Dent, Pitts, Murphy and Platts voted recently to restrict the EPA and other agencies from enforcing existing clean water laws and cleanup efforts. Staaf thanked Representatives Brady, Fattah, Altmire, Critz, Schwartz, Doyle and Holden for "voting against this harmful bill."

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