Washington — The Environmental Protection Agency issued new pollution control requirements for large livestock feedlots Friday that would allow farm operators to avoid having to get a permit if they claim the facility will not put harmful discharges into nearby waterways.
EPA officials said the new requirements call for a "zero discharge standard" and also will require farm operators to develop management plans that prevent the runoff of excessive environmentally damaging nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous into lakes and streams.
The new rules provide "a strong national standard for pollution prevention and environmental protection while maintaining our country's economic and agricultural competitiveness," said Benjamin Grumbles, the EPA's assistant administrator for water, in a statement.
Environmentalists have long complained that animal feedlots - the large farm operations where hogs and cattle are fattened before slaughter - pollute waterways because of their huge buildup of manure, which is piled up or spread across the land.
The EPA issued new pollution control requirement on such feedlots in 2003, but that regulation was overturned by the courts two years later. The rules issued Friday, to go into effect next February, are an attempt to meet the court's concerns.
The EPA estimated that the requirements will prevent the release into streams, lakes and other waterways of 56 million pounds of phosphorous, 110 million pounds of nitrogen and 2 billion pounds sediment a year.