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Final Rule Regarding Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, Washington, D.C.

12/16/2002
Talking Points for Governor Christine Todd Whitman,
Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
on announcing the
Final Rule Regarding
Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations
Washington, D.C.

December 16, 2002


Good afternoon.

Yesterday, the Environmental Protection Agency took a major step toward making America's waters cleaner and purer by placing new controls on animal manure and wastewater generated by large livestock operations.

Last night, we issued a final rule that will help reduce what has been a growing problem B the fact that animal waste generated by concentrated animal feeding operations poses a real and increasing threat to the health of America = s waters.

There are an estimated 238,000 livestock operations in the United States today.

The animals in these operations B from beef and dairy cattle to swine and poultry B generate 500 million tons of manure every year.

And while much of that manure is used to fertilize crops and increase agricultural yields, a substantial amount of it cannot be used that way.

This is because, increasingly, there are large numbers of animals concentrated in smaller geographic locations, and that means that the disposal of their waste can pose a greater challenge to the environment and to neighboring communities.

As a result, the nutrients in the waste B especially nitrogen and phosphorous B are finding their way into America = s lakes, rivers, estuaries, bays, and oceans in increasing quantities.

Those nutrients B which are beneficial to the land in the right amounts B damage the health of our waters when they are introduced in excessive amounts.

They promote algae growth, which robs oxygen from the water, killing fish and other aquatic life and spoiling once-beautiful waterways.

This new rule will apply to about 15,500 of the largest livestock operations in the country.

As a result of the action we are taking, the amount of phosphorus released into America= s environment will be reduced by 56 million pounds, while nitrogen releases will be slashed by more than 100 million pounds.

In addition, the release of over 2 billion pounds of sediments and nearly one million pounds of metals will also be averted, helping to protect both the health of the environment and of the American people.

We also expect to reduce nitrate contamination of drinking water wells and help reduce contamination of drinking water by metals, salts, and pathogens.

Having grown up on a farm B and still living on that farm B I understand the challenges farmers face in this day and age.

I also firmly believe that those who make their living from the land know the importance of good environmental stewardship.

That is why we worked very closely with USDA and with our partners in the ag community in developing this final rule.

The key element of this new rule B requiring these large operators to develop and follow a plan for handling manure and wastewater B is something many responsible operators are already doing.

This rule will ensure that all those who should be taking these steps are doing so B and that they are reporting on their efforts to the state or EPA every year and that they have a permit that ensures that the plan they have developed and are implementing truly will protect the environment.

This will also significantly increase the public accountability that is so necessary for successful, community-based environmental protection.

We look forward to continuing to work with USDA and with the ag community to ensure that the goal we all share B cleaner, purer water B is being advanced by our efforts.

Now I am delighted to introduce my friend and colleague, the Secretary of Agriculture, Ann Veneman.