In the wake of scandals with the I.R.S. targeting conservative groups and the Justice Department checking reporters’ phone records, now the EPA admits it gave personal information on 80,000 livestock producers to environmental activist groups.
Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is preparing legislation to restrict the EPA’s ability to release such data. Iowa Cattlemen’s president Ed Greiman, of Garner, says the measure is badly needed to protect producers’ privacy and rights.
“It’s crazy that we’ve got to deal with the EPA this way,” Greiman says. “It’s a good thing Senator Grassley has been working closely with the National Cattlemen who helped him draft this legislation.” Greiman says the personal privacy issue has drifted down to the state level where EPA has been overseeing the state Department of Natural Resources’ regulation of confined animal feedlots, or CAFOs.
“We know the EPA would like for the Iowa DNR to identify all possible CAFOs,” he says. “The real question we have for the Iowa DNR is, okay, where does this information go? The government just cannot be releasing all of our personal information.”
The EPA was responding to a Freedom of Information Act request by Earth Justice, the Pew Charitable Trust and the Natural Resources Defense Council. EPA officials admit they released more information than was required.
One critic in the U.S. Senate, Republican Mike Johanns of Nebraska, says the EPA is “too cozy” with environmental activist groups.
By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton