Texas is No. 1 in livestock waste - report
WASHINGTON - Texas generates more animal waste than any other U.S. state - an estimated 220 billion pounds annually - that pollutes streams, rivers and lakes throughout the state, two consumer activist groups said on Thursday.
The Sierra Club and Consumers Union urged Texas officials to tighten regulations for animal waste management to protect the states air and water.
California ranks second among U.S. states in livestock waste, generating 110 billion pounds, or about half the amount of Texas, the consumer groups said in a report.
The most damaging pollution comes from so-called factory farms, or commercial operations that raise thousands of animals in close quarters, the report said.
"Other states have addressed environmental concerns and implemented effective solutions," said Ed Hopkins, a Sierra Club lobbyist. "Texas should follow in their footsteps and protect our environment."
State officials in North Carolina, Oklahoma and Mississippi have temporarily halted new large operations for livestock. Other states such as Iowa, Georgia and Kansas have adopted new rules to control waste management.
The report urged Texas officials to give citizens a bigger say in the permitting of large livestock operations, to prohibit them in environmentally sensitive areas, and establish strict guidelines for emissions of hydrogen sulfide, ammonia and other air pollutants.
The consumer groups also said Texas should phase out the use of open lagoons and spraying fields with animal waste, and encourage organic meat production.
Texas ranchers were raising about 14 million head of cattle and about 800,000 pigs, according to recent data.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been working with the U.S. Agriculture Department for the past year to develop ways of permitting large livestock operations in a process that would require them to prevent water pollution.
Farm groups oppose any additional federal regulations, saying existing regulations already require concentrated operations to contain all animal waste until it is applied on crops in a way that does not pollute groundwater.
Nationwide, the huge operations raising cattle, hogs, chickens and turkeys generate an estimated 2.7 trillion pounds of waste each year, according to some estimates.
The National Pork Producers Council has launched programmes to help farmers improve animal waste management and to find new techniques to control odours.
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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