Federal court upholds breaks for polluting factory farms

In early 2005, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency offered a sweet deal to some decidedly not-so-sweet polluters: industrial-scale livestock farms.

In exchange for paying a small fee and agreeing to participate in an air quality data collection program, factory farms would essentially be exempt from Clean Air Act requirements for 30 months. About 2,600 farms -- most of them raising hogs -- signed up. The participating farms are located across the country, including North Carolina and Texas, the Associated Press reports.

But the deal angered environmental advocacy groups, who sued the EPA. This week, a federal appeals court issued its ruling in the case -- siding with the EPA against the environmentalists, according to the AP:

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ... found in its 2-1 ruling that the EPA was exercising a valid use of the agency's enforcement discretion by entering into agreements with the farms.

Luke Cole of the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment told the AP that his group was reviewing the decision to decide on the next course of action.