A number of ag organizations are increasing efforts to have Congress approve legislation that will clarify that manure is not a hazardous substance under the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), or Superfund law. Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX) introduced H.R. 4341 to accomplish this effort. There are 105 current cosponsors.

However, 14 environmental organizations have written Congress opposing H.R. 4341. The letter states, the "size of livestock operation has increased tremendously in recent years. Unlike traditional farms, these industrialized operations confine thousands, or even millions, of animals in closed buildings for most of their lives. As a result, these facilities generate large quantities of manure. A single location often generates as much waste as a small city. As the manure decomposes, it generates toxic gases, such as ammonia and hydrogen sulfide, which cause significant health problems in workers and nearby residents."

The groups signing the environmental letter include Earthjustice, Friends of the Earth, The Humane Society of the U.S., Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, and Waterkeeper Alliance. -- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C., correspondent