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Why Factory Farms May Finally Be Held Responsible for Their Polluting Waste

In a groundbreaking legal settlement, the EPA has agreed to identify and investigate thousands of factory farms that have been avoiding government regulation for water pollution.

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Today there are more than 67,000 pork operations compared with nearly three million in the 1950s. Farms have grown in size; 53 percent of them now produce 5,000 or more pigs per year.

"The record is clear -- large CAFO operations, and many medium and small operations, commonly discharge pollutants into the surrounding environment," said Waterkeeper Alliance attorney Hannah Connor. "What is also clear is that if we want to continue to drink, fish and enjoy water that is not contaminated with raw animal excrement, these discharges must be stopped."

"We believe that the terms of this settlement will help reverse this industry's history of bad behavior by improving implementation and enforcement of the law," Connor said.

Litigation brought by these three groups has forced the EPA to revise its CAFO rules twice within the past decade to tighten the pollution control requirements on these facilities.

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