Jackson: EPA Seeks Clarity in Rules, May Regulate Animal Waste

Lisa Jackson, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator, asserted at a forum for the PBS Frontline documentary Poisoned Waters that new legislation is needed to strengthen EPA's authority to control pollution and protect local rivers, streams, and wetlands.

Jackson, speaking at the National Press Club, said that court decisions had left "murkiness" about EPA's authority to enforce some mandates of the Clean Water Act. She said EPA would seek new legislation to "clarify" its authority to take action on smaller waterways.

The two-hour documentary, to be aired on PBS on April 21, shows sobering evidence of America's failure over the past 35 years to contain water contamination from agricultural waste, stormwater run-off, and endocrine disrupters. The danger to human health from these chemicals in the environment and in drinking water systems was underscored Dr. Robert Lawrence of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.

"There are five million people being exposed to endocrine disrupters just in the mid-Atlantic region," Lawrence told Frontline Correspondent Hedrick Smith, "and yet we don't know precisely how many of them are going to develop premature breast cancer, going to have problems with reproduction, going to have all kinds of congenital anomalies of the male genitalia, things that are happening, we know they're happening, but they're happening at a broad low level so that they don't raise alarm in the general public."

Jackson told Smith that the Obama EPA is pushing to require pollution discharge permits from industrial-scale animal feeding operations near Chesapeake Bay and other national waterways. The purpose is to regulate contamination from excess animal waste.

Poisoned Waters shows that industrial-scale chicken farms generate 1.5 billion pounds of chicken waste annually -- more than the human waste from four cities, New York, Washington, San Francisco and Atlanta, put together. Jackson said this waste problem has to be brought under regulation.

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