In response to recent changes in New York dairy farm regulations, several environmental groups are banding together to bring a lawsuit against N.Y. Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration. The groups, which include Riverkeeper, Earthjustice, Sierra Club and others, claim that the alterations in policy violate the federal Clean Water Act and have been causing harm to the water, soil and air quality of New York and surrounding areas since the new laws went into effect this year.
The new policies, which were created to support the state’s rapidly expanding Greek yogurt industry, eased the waste management requirements for medium-sized dairy farms (200-299 cows). This allowed owners to meet the growing demand for yogurt by increasing the number of cows without having to upgrade facilities. However, a team of waste management expects hired by the environmental groups concluded that the resulting pollution is harmful to both ecosystems and human populations. As the president of the Waterkeeper Alliance stated “[f]actory farms are one of the greatest sources of water pollution in the country” and the policy changes in New York will only increase the polluted runoff that is absorbed into waterways.
The environmental group firmly believes that the state should have met the growing demand for yogurt responsibly and encouraged farm owners to grow their numbers while also forming sound waste management systems. The Cuomo administration continues to stand behind the legislation, pointing out that the state’s dairy regulations are still more strict than those required by federal law.
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