Millions of State Dollars Helped Polluting Dairies Expand in California, Says Report
LOS ANGELES Nearly $70 million in state bond money earmarked for reducing pollution was used by California dairies to expand their operations, which resulted in more pollution, according to a published report.
The result is that the air in California's dairy-rich San Joaquin Valley is now among the dirtiest in the nation, the Los Angeles Times reported this week.
State Treasurer Phil Angelides, who approved the loans as head of the Pollution Control Financing Authority, now says the money was misspent. He froze $24 million in dairy loans that were approved earlier this year.
"In the future, I'm going to press hard to make sure that any dairy we finance will be taking steps to resolve environmental problems, not contribute to them," Angelides said.
The 18 dairies qualified for the tax-exempt, low-interest loan programs by stating that expanding operations would provide an "environmentally sound method of disposing of animal waste" by spreading cow manure across a greater area and thus decreasing its impact on groundwater supplies.
But while some of the expanded dairy operations have been successful in increasing groundwater protection, the Times said, dairies that expanded their herds to as many as 14,000 cows also put millions of pounds of smog-forming gases in the air.
David Albers, one of the farmers who received a low-interest loan, said that he got the money "fair and square" and that his expanded operation does pose less risk to groundwater.
However, he acknowledged that like other dairy farmers, he continues to shunt waste into open-air lagoons, where it bakes in the sun and releases methane gas into the air.
Source: Associated Press