Communities of color and low-income communities face a disproportionate burden of environmental pollution and related health risks in this country and, here in Indiana.
The way we raise animals today for most of our meat and dairy products does not in any way resemble the way animals are raised on traditional farms with green pastures and red barns.
Instead, our meat and dairy come from large industrial facilities known as CAFOs/CFOs that concentrate as many animals as possible in one space at the least expense of money, labor and attention. These operations produce livestock in high volume to maximize profit but often cause significant harm to the environment and the communities in which they operate.
Also unlike the bucolic farm setting where animals graze in green pastures, animals in CAFOs are confined indoors, with no room for normal behaviors and little or no access to sunlight and fresh air. These animals are mutilated to adapt them to CAFO conditions including cutting off the beaks of chickens and turkeys (de-beaking), amputating the tails of cows and pigs (docking), castration, dehorning and other procedures done without anesthesia. Male chicks, of no economic value to the egg industry are typically gassed or ground up alive – in the photo here, they were found dead or dying in a dumpster behind a hatchery. And, they are given vast amounts of antibiotics to ward off disease associated with living in these conditions.
Indiana is home to nearly 3,000 of these animal factories – almost double the number we had little more than a decade ago.
These factories are responsible for raising 80% of Indiana’s livestock including: 870,000 cows, 3.6 million swine, and 42 million chickens, hens and other poultry. In the U.S., livestock produces 500 million tons of manure annually as compared to 150 million tons of human waste. To put this into perspective, a single livestock operation with 5,000 pigs is estimated to produce the same amount of raw sewage as a town of 20,000 people.
Although livestock animals produce significantly more waste than humans, the urine and feces from livestock is allowed under current regulation to collect in large open air lagoons before it is spread, untreated on land, in amounts that exceed the capacity of the land to absorb it. As a result, this waste often runs off into nearby surface waters where it stimulates bacteria and algal growth in those waters. Also, livestock waste produces toxic dusts and gases including noxious hydrogen sulfide and ammonia – exposure to which is known to cause respiratory symptoms and disease as well as and neurobehavioral problems including depression, fatigue and confusion. These health impacts have been increasingly documented in residents living near CAFOs.
There are environmental laws, agency rules and regulations, including permit requirements under the CWA applicable to CAFOs and CFOs. In fact, HEC was instrumental in strengthening these rules. **CAFO/CFO Rule: good character law, greater setbacks, more frequent manure testing, land application requirements**OISC – new rules for manure used as fertilizerHowever, these provisions do not regulate and offer little to no relief from the nuisance dusts, gases, flies and vectors created by industrial livestock operations.
Due to this regulatory gap, people who live next to these facilities are often prisoners in their own homes that they can’t escape due to the dramatic loss of property value from living next to an industrial livestock facility – and who would buy it?
So, in addition to our work to strengthen CAFO regulations, HEC provided residents who were driven from their home with legal representation to hold the polluting CFO accountable.The case went before the Ind. Ct. of Appeals where we successfully convinced the appeals court to reverse the trial court’s dismissal of the case and hold that RTF does not protect CAFOs from lawsuits brought by neighboring farmers who were their first.We are also planning an innovative program that will empower Indiana communities with the most CAFOs to be able to participate in zoning/land use, environmental permitting/enforcement decisions so they can effectively represent their own interests without having to hire a lawyer.
We also work at the legislative level to make sure people’s legal rights are protected. This last session, HEC fought hard to defeat a law that would have effectively precluded court access to people who live next to CAFOs and because there was not any legitimate reason for the law other than to have a chilling effect on people who are being harmed by neighboring CAFOs from seeking court relief.Although we were not successful, we were able to galvanize significant public opposition that enabled us add an amendment to lessen the unjust nature of the legislation.
Statistics have long shown that poor minority communities suffer a greater burden of pollution in our society than more affluent, white communities. That is certainly the case in Gary, Hammond and E. Chicago. Where:Gary :8.9% White – 84.8% African AmericanState: 81.5% White – 9.1% African AmericanPoverty rates:Gary – 32.6%State – 13.5% (6th highest in nation)Zoning law – preexisting uses grandfathered in – no separated use requirementsDiscriminatory land use – racially restrictive covenants; only whites/landowners could vote or sit on decision-making boards
Environmental laws:exempt older facilities from more stringent requirements (US Pub. Int. Research Group: grandfathered power plants emit 4-10 times more pollution than newer plants)Create complex administrative processes that require lawyers/technical experts to understandGovernment enforcement:RCRA penalties 500% higher in nonminority neighborhoodsAll penalties 46% higher in white communitiesLegal Aid Clinics that accept government funding (IOLTA) are precluded from using funds to influence regulation or agency adjudicatory proceedings if it concerns a policy of general applicability. Legal Aid clinics reluctant to get involved in EJ issues with well-funded opponents.
The area is home to three of the nation's largest integrated steel mills, one of the world's largest oil refineries, several coal-fired power plants, and countless industrial facilities including smelters, toxics recyclers, chemical companies and manufacturing facilities. Also, there are 52 CERCLA/Superfund sites, 423 hazardous waste sites, more than 460 underground storage tanks (USTs), three wastewater treatment works, and 15 combined sewer overflows (CSOs). The city of Gary has by far the highest proportion of land devoted to industrial activity than anywhere else in the state.
We know how to do this….can use our experience in Elkhart case to empower residents of Gary, Hammond & E. Chicago
Hoosier Environmental Council Green Drinks Presentation
HEC’s Approach,Expanded thanks Legislative Engagementto our Merger & Advocacywith LEAF Local Research Challenges of and State Agency an Collaborative Policy-Making “Extraordinary Nature” Approach Citizen Training Workshops
Which opportunity to focus on?–Statewide impact–Capacity to help the economy–Supporter, Partner backing–Bi-partisan champions–Fundable –.
Successes in Sprawl-Reducing Transportation• Bringing needed scrutiny on I-69’s overall repercussions• Indianapolis Star, other editorial Board’s endorsements on infrastructure crisis• Helping save PMTF cuts in last budget
Advancing Sprawl-Reducing Transportation• State picture – 3% to transit – More transit agencies – No gas tax money• Local picture – Property tax caps
Rethinking the Bigger Picture Roads Transit Rail
Business Rationale• Save operating costs• Differentiate in marketplaceCorporate stewardship:• Reducing pollution• Promoting clean tech
Many tools, but more to go…• Energy efficiency building codes & DSM – Upfront capital• Net metering – Cost of electricity• Grants, loans – Government funding constraints• Private sector clean energy finance
PACE Authorization Legislation• Solves two major long-standing problems: – Gives property owners upfront capital – Enables the loan to the owner to travel with the property
How does it do this?• The legislation gives localities authority to: – Issue revenue bonds – Proceeds used to give “assessments” that are paid off over a 20 year period – Administered in a few ways• 23 states have this (IL, MI, OH)
Most Appealing AspectEnergy bill savings > Incremental cost Net savings, greater cash flow
Indiana’s CAFOs & CFOs 2,200 CFOs regulated under state law 625 CAFOs subject to federal regulation
Indiana’s CAFOs & CFOs CAFOs responsible for 80% of all livestock raised in Indiana Cows/calves - 870,000 Hogs/pigs - 3.6 million Poultry - 42 million Livestock produce 500 million tons of manure annually Humans produce150 million tons ofManure lagoons at an Indiana CAFO waste annually
Is this waste regulated? Not reallyA CAFO in Kosciusko Co. Manure lagoons at awith algae blooms nearby CAFO in Kosciusko Co.
Are Odors, Dust, Flies & Rodents Regulated? Unfortunately, NOEPA?IDEM?OISC?IDNR?ISDA?IDH?Local Ordinances?Photo: fly infestation of home near aCAFO
What legal recourse doneighbors have?“Since the first of May, whenthey first spread the liquidmanure, the smell has been sobad my kids can hardly gooutside.“Union City resident, WendyMcCarter-ReadQuoted in NUVO, July 21, 2010Photo: Randolph County CAFO
Providing Real Access to the Courts & Training Citizen Advocates-CFO held accountable-Right to Farm weakened Stickdorn v. Lantz, et. al-Citizen Advocacy Trainingworkshops in CAFOcommunities
Protecting Legal Rights…HEA 1091: Even more protection forCAFOs“If a court finds that an agriculturaloperation that is the subject of anuisance action was not a nuisance . . .and that the nuisance action wasfrivolous, the court shall award courtcosts and reasonable attorneys fees, tothe defendant in the action.”Sponsor: Rep. Friend, Dist. 23
Environmental Injustice in Gary, Hammond & East Chicago • Extreme poverty • Largely minority populations • Discriminatory zoning & land use law • No access to political / legal system
Understanding Environmental Injustice in Gary, Hammond & East Chicago• Less vigorous enforcement by regulators• Older facilities exempt from more stringent requirements• Lack of meaningful access to technical / legal assistance
Our neighbors in Gary, Hammond & East Chicago need our help
Success in empowering overburdened communities
HEC’s Lake County EJ Initiative• Community led data collection and analysis• Education and training in effective advocacy• Providing community resources for long term systemic change
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