Farmers, ranchers sue after the EPA discloses confidential information to green groups
By Jillian Kay Melchior | National Review Online
The fire at San Joaquin Valley’s Harris Farms burst out suddenly and rapidly, consuming 14 trailer trucks in the dawn of Jan. 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.
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