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This site is the inspiration of a former reporter/photographer for one of New England's largest daily newspapers and for various magazines. The intent is to direct readers to interesting political articles, and we urge you to visit the source sites. Any comments may be noted on site or directed to KarisChaf at gmail.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The EPA’s Privacy Problem -- By Jillian Kay Melchior, National Review

Farmers and ranchers sue after the EPA releases confidential information to environmental groups.


The fire at San Joaquin Valley’s Harris Farms burst out suddenly and rapidly, consuming 14 trailer trucks in the dawn of January 8, 2012. Wreaking more than $2 million in damage, it constituted one of the biggest acts of agro-terrorism in American history.

An anonymous news release issued by the Animal Liberation Front, a radical animal-rights group, explained that unnamed activists had placed containers of kerosene and digital timers beneath the trucks, linking them with kerosene-soaked rope to carry the fire down the row, “a tactic adapted from Home Alone 2.” The statement concludes threateningly: “until next time.” The perpetrators remain uncaught.

Two years later, farmers and ranchers in 29 states worry they’ll be similarly attacked; last year, the Environmental Protection Agency released to environmental groups extensive personal information about 80,000 to 100,000 agricultural operations.

 The data released included names of owners, addresses, global-positioning-system coordinates, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, and, in some instances, notes on medical conditions and inheritances. Though environmental groups had requested information about “concentrated animal feeding operations” — “CAFOs” in the bureaucratic lingo, and “feedlots” in the vernacular — some of the information released clumped in data about crop farms, too.

Farm groups say the EPA violated farmers’ and ranchers’ privacy, increasing their risk of agro-terrorism as well as harassment or litigation from animal-rights and environmental activists. The EPA has admitted to having improperly released farmers’ data on two occasions, and has twice attempted to claw back those records.

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