As EPA issues one of its strongest orders ever on farm pollution, ongoing series examines risks with efforts to find energy alternatives

With support from the Fund, reporter Keith Schneider is writing a continuing series of stories on connections between Big Ag and water pollution. Earlier stories in the series looked at the health impact of farms using large volumes of pesticides that contain nitrate, focusing in part on Minnesota – and last month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency directed three Minnesota government agencies to address the “imminent and substantial endangerment to the health” of thousands of southeast Minnesota residents exposed to high nitrate contamination levels in drinking water. Schneider wrote that this was one of the strongest orders ever issued by EPA to limit farm pollution from livestock and crop production. In his newest installment in the series, Schneider examined potential downsides of efforts to transform agricultural waste into renewable energy. Writing in the New Lede, he examined concerns of critics that an alliance of agriculture, oil and government interests overlooks the possible downsides of the effort to create greener energy sources. Without strict regulation, manure digesters could make water and air pollution worse, not better, and will not mitigate climate change, Schneider reported. The series is co-published by Investigate Midwest, The Guardian, Great Lakes Now, Michigan Radio, and MinnPost.