Wednesday, September 19, 2007


How many Americans if asked would consider manure in their water to be "a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant?" I would venture to guess just about everyone.

Sen. Christopher Bond (R-MO)and Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-ARK) and Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) along with 23 of their closest Senate pals, however, beg to differ. They seem to curry to the notion of drinking "shitty" water. I say let them bottle some of the stuff for themselves, and let the rest of us have clean water.

Sen. Lincoln who sponsored the bill to amend the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act of 1980, I guess so that she could share her "shitty" water with everyone, does happen to come from the home state of Tyson Foods. Ah, any connection?

Tyson and other companies like it run these huge concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), which have proliferated in recent years, now totaling about 19,000 across the country.

These CAFOs may contain thousands of hogs or hundreds of thousands of chickens. Their waste, often spread on the land, can flow into streams and lakes, causing growth of harmful algae and contamination by bacteria, pesticides and hormones, posing serious threats to health.

That would be your health and mine and millions of other everyday Americanos.

Oklahoma Attorney General W.A. Drew Edmondson voiced concern at a recent Senate hearing on the proposed superfund amendment, saying it would eliminate an important tool in remedying the effects of pollution caused by “industrial-scale” animal feeding operations in Oklahoma and throughout the country.

Congressional Quarterly reports Edmondson said the once-pristine Illinois River watershed — a million acres straddling the Arkansas-Oklahoma border — had been seriously impaired by the waste disposal practices of poultry companies with millions of chickens and turkeys that generated hundreds of thousands of tons of waste.

Efforts to weaken superfund by exempting all animal waste or anything that might be commingled with it “are a transparent attempt to protect the industrial-scale animal feeding operation practice of dumping animal waste in an environmentally damaging manner,” he said.

Tom Bonacquisti, testifying on behalf of the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, said that providing a blanket exemption for manure from the requirements of superfund could damage the quality of drinking water for millions.

The witness, who is water quality program manager at the Loudoun County, Va., Sanitation Authority, said several toxins frequently found in waste emissions from CAFOs were regulated as hazardous substances under superfund, including phosphorus, nitrates, ammonia and even arsenic.

I mean how many brain cells do these bought off Senators think we've lost. Of course filling our lakes and streams with crap is not a good idea.

Oh, but wait, these big companies have a hell of a lot more dough than the average hard working American. And that is what counts.

As animal agriculture has grown in size, some groups have used Superfund to take farms to court for their pollution. For instance, Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson (D) filed suit against Arkansas poultry companies in 2005 for dumping waste in Oklahoma’s Illinois River watershed and leaving a lake in the northeastern part of the state 70 percent oxygen dead.

The farm state Senators thus are just looking out after their constituents (if huge corperate farms can be called constituents).

As for real farmers - current laws protect responsible farmers who use livestock manure as fertilizer to grow crops.

But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe its not about corporate America after all.

Sen. Bond says actions like those of the Oklahoma Attorney General must be stopped. Such actions, he says, "...could create a litigation gridlock — and yes, it would apply to rodeos and parades."

Rodeos and parades...that's a good one, Senator.

The following commentary comes from the Joplin Independent (Missouri).

Tyson's dirty water bail-out bill

Sen. Christopher Bond (R-MO) is on the list, at least as of August 26, 2007, of 25 co-sponsors of S.807, a bill introduced last spring by Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Tysonville) that would amend the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 to provide that manure shall not be considered a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. She is joined by other senators from heavily CAFO-ridden states. The list probably has someone you voted for on it.

Lincoln, who says she's from a seventh-generation Arkansas farm family, was re-elected in 2004 after a landslide victory with 580,000 votes, the highest total cast for a candidate to the U.S. Senate. Apparently, she's convinced her constituents that she's there for working families and, as her website suggests, as a "leading voice on national priorities like health care..."

Has she asked herself why health care has become such a priority? However, run-off from manure into the groundwater doesn't add to any health issue. It's not a source of contamination, she says.

Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmonson disagreed when he filed a lawsuit against 14 Arkansas poultry companies claiming that run-off from their improper land application methods and storage of hundreds of thousands of tons of poultry waste have polluted the Illinois River watershed and Lake Tenkiller, eventually affecting more than 20 Oklahoma public water supplies.

"This waste can also contain high levels of arsenic, zinc and copper, Edmonson reported. "It creates high phosphorus levels that cause excessive algae growth and eventually can cause high levels of carcinogens in drinking water. We are extremely concerned about the impact this waste could have on human health.”

So, have these Congressmen invested their PAC contributions in the stock of bottled water companies? Phosphorus, ammonia and hydrogen sulfide are substances associated with livestock waste. Are these supporters suggesting that putting more vast quantities of these chemicals in the water is okay?

Those opposed to Lincoln's bill and H.R. 1398, a similar bill proposed in the House by Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN) and 122 scary co-supporters like Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO), believe that when factory farms pollute rivers or drinking water supplies with their waste, they should have to pay the cost to clean up the mess, not cities, states and drinking water suppliers that pass the cost along to you and me. And without the penalties, they say, there would be no incentive for factory farms to manage their waste properly and keep it out of our drinking water supply.

Did you think this type of bill was dead in the water (no pun intended)? This type of legislation won't be dead as long as politicians finance themselves with PAC money and business donations. It won't be dead as long as people turn their backs on the issues or are blind-sighted by political doublespeak.

Commentary by Belleann Dumont, Joplin

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