Pure Farms, Pure Waters


As control over livestock production is increasingly consolidated into the hands of a few multinational corporations, international trade agreements threaten to weaken environmental laws, open new markets and internationally expand the industrialized production system that has polluted rivers, lakes, and coastal waterways across the United States.  Domestic industrialized agriculture production – which produces roughly 1.1 billion tons of animal manure annually – is one of the largest unaddressed sources of water pollution in the United States. It is directly, and indirectly, causing coastal hypoxia, eutrophication, toxic algal blooms, pathogen contamination, water depletion, and air pollution  in most U.S. states.

Through its Pure Farms, Pure Waters Campaign, Waterkeeper Alliance has participated in virtually all of the major litigation and regulatory initiatives involving the livestock production industry in the U.S., and is widely recognized for having specialized expertise in the complex legal, factual and scientific issues associated with the industry.  Waterkeeper Alliance has worked to address air and water pollution from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) at the national level; regionally in the Chesapeake Bay and the Mississippi River Basin; and at the state and local level in Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Georgia, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, and West Virginia.  

Challenging EPA’s Illegal CAFO Exemptions

On April 15, 2015, Waterkeeper Alliance, along with the Sierra Club, the Humane Society of the US, the Environmental Integrity Project, and the Center for Food Safety, represented by Earthjustice, filed an action in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to force the U.S. EPA to withdraw an illegal rule that exempts CAFOs from federal laws hazardous substance reporting laws.  After assuring the Court it would take action on these exemptions in response to a lawsuit we filed in 2009, the Court sent the rule back to the EPA for revision or revocation.  However, EPA did nothing on the rule for the last 5 years –  allowing untold quantities of hazardous pollution – including hydrogen sulfide and ammonia – to be released into the neighboring environment without informing potentially impacted communities or emergency responders.  On September 23, 2015, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in our favor reopening the case and bringing our legal challenge to the illegal exemptions back before the Court.