Protect Human Health and the Environment from Nitrogen Fertilizer Pollution

Target: Zippy Duvall, President of the American Farm Bureau Federation

Goal: Stop farmers from using harmful nitrogen fertilizers that pollute our environment and threaten human health.

Nitrogen fertilizer is a major threat to both human health and the environment. It is directly linked to water pollution, air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, creation of aquatic dead zones, and lethal explosions. It is one of the most common and depended-upon fertilizers in large-scale farming. Despite its negative impacts, farmers are using it at a rate 40 times higher than it was three-quarters of a century ago.

The EPA called nutrient pollution through excess use of nitrogen “one of America’s most widespread, costly and challenging environmental problems…” Excess nitrogen washes into waterways, resulting in drinking water contamination. Runoff into waterways also causes aquatic dead zones: areas of low-oxygen caused by nutrient pollution that kill marine life and contaminate drinking water. In addition, nitrogen is a common greenhouse gas with an atmospheric lifespan of over 100 years. Excess nitrogen in the atmosphere produces pollutants such as ammonia and ozone, which can impair one’s ability to breath, limit visibility, and altar plant growth.

The common chemical in nitrogen fertilizer, ammonium nitrate, is highly explosive, functioning as one of the main components in a bomb. There have been numerous lethal explosions due to the storage of nitrogen fertilizer. The most recent explosion occurred in West, Texas at West Fertilizer Company in 2013, killing 15 people and injuring 200.

Farming is not subject to the same monitoring, testing, and enforcement faced by factories and other industries. However, there have been numerous attempts by the EPA to regulate the use of nitrogen fertilizers in agriculture, despite industry pushback. The American Farm Bureau Federation outwardly opposes any laws or regulations proposed by the EPA, including the reporting of greenhouse gas emissions or the adoption of any climate change legislation. Sign below to demand the American Farm Bureau Federation stop using nitrogen fertilizer and cooperate with necessary climate change action suggested by the EPA.


Dear Mr. Duvall,

The use of nitrogen fertilizer in agriculture threatens the health and well-being of humans and the environment through the contamination of waterways, creation of dead zones that kill fish and wildlife, air pollution, and risk of lethal explosion. In addition, agriculture’s dependency on the use of nitrogen fertilizer threatens the health and vitality of the soil long term. Planting nitrogen fixing cover crops and using livestock manure as a form of fertilizer will encourage diversity and increase overall health of the soil without the use of excessive and harmful external outputs.

You cannot continue to risk the long term health of our planet and its people. I encourage you to stop vilifying the EPA for attempting to protect human and environmental health from chemical fertilizers that should be labeled as hazardous materials. I demand that you halt the use of nitrogen fertilizer.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Lynn Betts

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