More lawsuits have been filed against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding its oversight of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), these addressing air quality.

The Environmental Integrity Project and the Humane Society of the United States filed the suits in the U.S. District of Columbia District Court. Joined by a coalition of environmental, animal rights and other groups, the lawsuits would force EPA to control air emissions around large livestock operations. 

The lawsuits seek to prompt EPA to take action on two rulemaking petitions, filed in 2009 and 2011:

• A petition from the Humane Society of the United States requesting that EPA list “factory farms” as a category of sources of pollution under the Clean Air Act, and set performance standards for new and existing facilities.

• The Environmental Integrity Project’s petition asking EPA to set health-based standards for ammonia. 

The lawsuits ask the court to order EPA to make a final decision on the within 90 days.

In a press release, the group says there are more than 20,000 large farms housing billions of animals in the U.S. which “release noxious air pollutants, including ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, volatile organic compounds, methane and particulate matter,” posing a health threat to family farmers and rural residents. 

The release specifically cites dairying in California’s San Joaquin Valley for high emission levels.

“In California’s San Joaquin Valley, we have suffered a huge increase in factory farm dairies over the past decade,” said Tom Frantz, a farmer and President of the Association of Irritated Residents (AIR). “Ammonia emissions from factory farm dairies are causing the highest fine particulate matter levels in the United States, which seriously harms our health while EPA has done nothing.”

The plaintiffs are the Environmental Integrity Project, the Humane Society of the United States, Center for Food Safety, Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, Clean Wisconsin, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, and the Association of Irritated Residents (represented by the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment).