Environmental and animal welfare groups this week sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), alleging the federal agency unlawfully dropped a rule in July 2012 that would have authorized EPA to collect information on concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), such as the number of animals on the farm, the waste management practices, and the location of the facilities.

The Center for Food Safety, Environmental Integrity Project, Food & Water Watch, The Humane Society, and Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement said that the gathering of such information is critical to the agency’s enforcement of the Clean Water Act.  The lawsuit filed in federal court in Washington, claims that EPA lacks the rational basis required by law to withdraw the rule, which was initially published in October 2011.  EPA subsequently published a notice that it was withdrawing the rule.

EPA has said it plans on getting the information from other state and federal agencies, but the groups that sued said that state data was inconsistent and inaccurate.