Log in to view your state's edition
You are not logged in
Bookmark and Share
May 17, 2013
EPA errs twice on CAFO data

In a letter, Senator Mike Johanns (R-NE) has asked EPA Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe how the Agency is ensuring that personal information about agricultural operators mistakenly released to environmental groups will be retroactively protected.  Specifically, Johanns wants to know if the EPA has asked the groups for a list of entities or individuals who received the information and, further, if the Agency is requesting that those entities/individuals provide affidavits certifying that they have not kept copies or otherwise released confidential information.

FOIA request

Johanns’ letter is the latest development in a clear case of EPA mismanagement, which began in February 2013 when the Agency responded to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from Earthjustice, the Pew Charitable Trust, and the Natural Resources Defense Council asking for information about 80,000 concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) in 29 states.  The released data included personal information such as addresses and phone numbers.  The agricultural community objected that release of these data constituted a violation of personal privacy and furthermore posed a security risk to the CAFO operators.  

The EPA subsequently determined that personal information on CAFO operators in 10 states was not already publicly available from state sources.  The EPA requested that the environmental groups return the initial data they received and provided the groups with a second data set with the restricted information redacted.  Subsequently, the Agency found that its second release still contained restricted information on CAFOs in Nebraska and Montana. 

The EPA again requested that the restricted information be returned, and a second redacted version was sent to the groups.  The groups have stated that they were seeking information about wastewater discharges from CAFOs, not the telephone numbers of the operators.

Meaningful steps

Nonetheless, Johanns believes that the EPA has “not taken meaningful steps to prevent the abuse of ag producers’ private information already released.” 

"EPA’s ongoing assault on America’s ag producers is nothing short of alarming,” said Johanns.  “Its disregard for the privacy of farmers and ranchers in Nebraska and across the country is, at best, woeful negligence and, at worst, a flagrant effort to aid organizations seeking to radically transform American agriculture, with no regard for what it takes to feed the world.”

Click here for a news release on the contents of Johanns’ letter to the EPA.

Twitter   Facebook   Linked In
Follow Us