The Humane Society of the United States reports that it intends to sue a range of pork production companies involving their units in Iowa, North Carolina and Oklahoma. The animal rights group cites unreported releases of hazardous pollutant ammonia as the impetus for the legal action, reports Wisconsin AgConnection.

Several of the companies receiving notice of the lawsuit are associated with the leaders of the National Pork Producers Council. A statement from HSUS criticized both the companies being sued and the NPPC.

“These intensive pig confinement operations are a menace to the environment, to the community, and to the animals virtually immobilized in tiny gestation crates for nearly their entire lives,” says Jonathan Lovvorn, senior vice president and chief counsel for animal protection litigation at The HSUS. “The National Pork Producers Council’s record on environmental degradation is just as sordid as its record on the systemic mistreatment of animals.”

The NPPC issued a statement alleging that the lawsuit is in response to other actions taken by the Council against the HSUS:

“Regardless (of the lawsuits), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is still evaluating air emissions data gathered from livestock and poultry operations to develop a better understanding of emissions rates, which vary considerably from farm to farm. This will allow the agency to better apply environmental laws to these complex biological systems.

“It is important to point out that HSUS is not alleging environmental harm but rather paperwork violations of EPA’s emissions reporting rule. Additionally, it is worth noting that when the reporting rule went into effect in 2009, there was widespread confusion about it, with some states refusing to accept reports, one state claiming EPA notices to report emissions were an Internet hoax and EPA’s Region 4 office initially telling producers and states there was no reporting requirement.

“HSUS’s action obviously is another scare tactic to get NPPC to back off its opposition to the HSUS Egg Bill and to the animal-rights group’s truth-twisting campaign against family farmers who use individual sow housing. (In April, HSUS threatened NPPC with a meritless Federal Trade Commission complaint.)

“In addition to not telling the truth about how hog farmers raise and care for their animals, HSUS now is lying about hog farmers' stewardship of the environment, which is exemplary.

“We also wonder why a so-called animal welfare group is sticking its nose in environmental issues.”

Sources: HSUS, Wisconsin AgConnection, National Hog Farmer