One of the Democrats running for President is wading into the controversy over large-scale hog confinements. Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards — a U.S. Senator from North Carolina — has introduced a bill to establish new federal water and air pollution standards for large-scale livestock operations. Edwards says he thinks there’s a “crisis” and it’s time for Congress to act. His bill would establish new limits for the discharge of pollutants like nitrogen and phosphorus into the soil and water. For the first time ever, it would set federal clean air limits for the emission of hydrogen sulfide and ammonia from large confinements. There’d be new federal fines for manure spills, and new federal limits on how much liquid or solid manure may be spread as fertilizer on farm fields. While the bill would let states have stricter standards, Edwards says it’s time for the feds to step up and regulate the industry. Edwards says it’s a national problem that deserves national attention. Edwards calls it the “Concentrated Livestock Existing Alongside Nature” or CLEAN Act. Edwards cites the example of a northern Iowa family who bought a home in the country, but suffered health problems after a large-scale hog unit was built nearby, so the family ended up moving away. Edwards says his “fundamental belief is that something is wrong when families are driven from their homes because of hog waste,” and it’s time for Congress to do something about it. Edwards is serving his first term as a Senator, a term he won by defeating an incumbent who owned a hog farm where manure spills had occurred. Edwards talked with reporters by phone from Washington this morning. He’ll campaign in Iowa this weekend.
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