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PRESS RELEASE: Maricopa County Residents to Board of Supervisors Chair Hickman: Withdraw from All Air Quality, Environmental Decisions

Citizen petition demands industrial ag executive recuse himself to avoid further conflicts of interest; STOPP cites ongoing federal Clean Air Act investigation of Hickman Family Farms

Tonopah, AZ September 21, 2016 Today, members of the Arizona community group STOPP Inc. (Save Tonopah Oppose Poultry Plant) delivered a petition calling on Maricopa County Board of Supervisor Chairman, Clint L. Hickman (District 4) to immediately recuse himself from participation in all local issues affecting County health and environment. Supervisor Hickman is Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Hickman Family Farms, a controversial, massive egg-laying facility that currently houses more than 4 million laying hens operating within a few hundred feet of Tonopah residences, businesses and natural hot springs.

The petition was presented by a group of Tonopah residents during public comment at the monthly Maricopa County Board of Supervisors meeting.

STOPP is supported in their fight to preserve their community, environment and public health by Socially Responsible Agricultural Project (SRAP), a national nonprofit organization working in communities across the nation impacted by the effects of industrial animal operations, and the Phoenix-based environmental organization, Don’t Waste Arizona (DWA).

Clint Hickman cannot protect his corporate business concerns and the public good at the same time,  said Dan Mack, Chairman of STOPP, Inc. Evidence of this overwhelming conflict of interest and total lack of responsibility to this community is in the air every single day. If there’s any doubt, come to Tonopah.

Hickman Family Farms is an Arizona corporation with a history of receiving public complaints involving noxious odors, significant air emissions, large-scale fly swarms, hazardous dead animal spills, rodent infestation, dust, feather and insect proliferation, and escalating noise pollution. It is also currently the target of an ongoing Clean Air Act investigation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The public appeal to Hickman was signed by 265 residents of Tonopah and surrounding communities, including Glendale, Peoria, Surprise, Phoenix, Laveen, Goodyear, Whittmann, Buckeye, Avondale and Arlington. More than 80 percent of the petition signers are registered voters.

The current federal investigation of Hickman Family Farms is pursuant to Section 114 of the Clean Air Act which gives EPA the authority to investigate air pollution sources to determine compliance with federal clean air regulations. STOPP, SRAP and DWA submitted a joint letter to the EPA Region 9 office on October 6, 2015 alerting them to their concerns about Hickman’s air pollution problems and potential federal and state Clean Air Act and other regulatory issues.

For those signing the petition like Tonopah resident Lorna Proper, it is clear that Hickmans lack of leadership is creating a crisis for many Maricopa County residents.

Every County resident deserves to lead a healthy life, and it’s obvious from his business practices that Mr. Hickman lacks the basic knowledge, care and good judgment to make that possible, said Proper. His family’s corporate egg business is a major air polluter — and whether he wants to know it or not, families in this County are suffering because of his indifference and his bottomline.

Plans for the Hickman egg operation are to expand to nearly 10 million birds at an industrial-scale compound of 28 laying houses, 2 processing plants and 4 industrial-sized egg production wastewater ponds storing more than 3 million gallons of contaminated liquid open to the environment and the community, threatening air quality, water safety, public health, the local economy and the use, enjoyment and value of surrounding properties.

As a national organization, we know positive change for communities impacted by industrial animal feeding operations starts with leaders who listen and respond to citizen concerns, said Danielle Diamond, Executive Director of SRAP. The unfortunate fact is Tonopah is in the dangerous position of not having that open channel because their County Supervisor has direct personal and financial ties to a major source of community pollution concerns.

For a review of the joint letter filed with EPA, Region 9, please click here. A copy of the EPA Clean Air Act investigation letter to Hickman’s dated June 1, 2016 is available by request.

To view videos highlighting the impact and effects of the Hickman operations on the residents of Tonopah, please go to the STOPP YouTube channel.

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About STOPP Inc. (Save Tonopah Oppose Poultry Plant)

STOPP is a not-for-profit community organization working to protect the safety of their local community and the quiet use and enjoyment of residents property, as well as to encourage and maintain the financial health and growth of businesses in the Tonopah community.  More information can be found at www.tonopahstopp.com.

About Socially Responsible Agricultural Project (SRAP)

SRAP is a national nonprofit organization working in rural communities across the country on the front lines of factory farm expansion. SRAP provides no-cost engineering, technical, educational, organizational and communications support, assisting citizens in the protection of their homes and the preservation of responsible family farming and ranching. For more information, go to sraproject.org.