Greek yogurt may come at the cost of polluted water

The New York yogurt boom has led to eased regulations for factory farms

Topics: Greek Yogurt, factory farming, environmentalists, lawsuit, Pollution, Deregulation, ,

Greek yogurt may come at the cost of polluted water (Credit: Shutterstock)

Greek yogurt or clean water? It would seem New York can’t have both. According to ThinkProgress, a recent lawsuit filed by environmental groups against the state Department of Environmental Conservation can be traced back to the insane popularity of the extra thick dairy product.

Claiming regulations were keeping dairy producers from meeting the yogurt demand, the state Department of Environmental Conservation changed the law to exempt farms with fewer than 300 cows from designation as a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO). Previously, farms with 200 cows or more were required to get a CAFO permit and follow stricter rules for waste management to avoid pollution.



Without a permit, a dairy operation with 299 cows in New York can skip the waste storage, nutrient management, and stormwater detention systems larger farms must use to keep animal manure from contaminating the land or water. The DEC, in fact, exempted these farms specifically so they would not have to worry about controlling their waste output. Proponents of the deregulation argue the systems needed to meet CAFO regulations are too expensive and discourage farms from expanding their herds.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo first announced the plans for deregulation last August at New York’s first “yogurt summit,” alongside the announcement that the state had become the nation’s leading yogurt producer. The groups suing, which include Riverkeeper, Earthjustice and Sierra Club, say Cuomo’s policies violate the federal Clean Water Act.

Lindsay Abrams

Lindsay Abrams is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on all things sustainable. Follow her on Twitter @readingirl, email labrams@salon.com.

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Elliott and the friends with whom he recorded in middle school in Texas (photo courtesy of Dan Pickering)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Heatmiser publicity shot (L-R: Tony Lash, Brandt Peterson, Neil Gust, Elliott Smith) (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Elliott and JJ Gonson (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    "Stray" 7-inch, Cavity Search Records (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Elliott's Hampshire College ID photo, 1987

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Elliott with "Le Domino," the guitar he used on "Roman Candle" (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Full "Roman Candle" record cover (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Elliott goofing off in Portland (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Heatmiser (L-R: Elliott Smith, Neil Gust, Tony Lash, Brandt Peterson)(courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    The Greenhouse Sleeve -- Cassette sleeve from Murder of Crows release, 1988, with first appearance of Condor Avenue (photo courtesy of Glynnis Fawkes)

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

Loading Comments...