Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, August 13, 2021


Robert Ukeiley, Center for Biological Diversity, (720) 496-8568,
Jennifer Anderson, Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest, (602) 258-8850,

Lawsuit Challenges EPA’s Failure to Control Air Pollution From Industrial Agriculture in Arizona

PHOENIX— The Center for Biological Diversity sued the Environmental Protection Agency today for failing to require Arizona to control air pollution from industrial agriculture via proper permitting across most of the state.

The lawsuit asks the court to overturn the EPA’s approval of Arizona’s blanket exemption from air-pollution permitting requirements for agricultural equipment. Emissions from diesel-burning engines on farm equipment contribute to ozone and particulate pollution, also known as smog and soot. Manure from industrial animal agriculture leads to increasing precursors for particulate matter and ozone pollution.

“Contrary to what we may want to think, industrial agriculture and factory farms are a dirty business when it comes to air pollution,” said Robert Ukeiley, an environmental health attorney at the Center. “We’re going to court to make sure Arizona is protecting people from asthma attacks, cancer and the other harmful health impacts massive corporate farming operations can cause.”

Numerous emission-reduction opportunities exist in Arizona that, if implemented, could create livable-wage jobs at the same time as addressing the deadly air-pollution problem. For example, the EPA action could shift the state to powering its farm equipment with pollution-free solar panels instead of dirty diesel engines.

Today’s lawsuit was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. It seeks to overturn the EPA’s decision that Arizona’s exemption from permitting requirements for agricultural equipment is protective of public health, as well as wildlife and special places like the Grand Canyon.

Controlling pollution from industrial agriculture is more important than ever. Several studies have shown that air pollution also increases the risk of death from COVID-19. One very recent study determined that high smog levels contributed to the extremely high numbers of COVID-19 deaths in northern Italy.

Beyond human health concerns, air pollution from industrial agriculture harms wildlife and plants, both naturally occurring and commercial crops. It hurts forests by increasing forest fires, disease and insect infestations. Sensitive species at risk from polluted air exposure include cottonwood trees and blazing star flowers.

The Center is represented by Jennifer Anderson and Daniel Adelman of the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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