No GHG data on CAFOs? WTF?
Some factory farms produce more manure—more than 1.6 million tons—a year than cities as big as Houston or Philadelphia, and yet the Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t have the information it needs to effectively regulate them, according to the Government Accountability Office. There isn’t even a national inventory of permitted industrial farms, or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO), much less of their greenhouse gas emissions. No federal agency collects reliable data on them, though the GAO says it appears the number of CAFOs have increased by 230 percent, from about 3,600 in 1982 to almost 12,000 in 2002. A two-year nationwide air emissions study, mostly funded by the industry, was initiated last year, but the GAO says that study may not provide enough valid data needed by the EPA to develop air emissions protocols. “[T]he EPA has neither the information it needs to assess the extent to which CAFOs may be contributing to water pollution, nor the information it needs to ensure compliance with the Clean Water Act,” the report said, adding, “[A] process-based model that more accurately predicts the total air emissions from an animal feeding operation is still needed. While the EPA has indicated it intends to develop such a model, it has not yet established a strategy and timeline for this activity.”