EPA to continue Fight against Large-Scale Livestock Farms

EPA to continue Fight against Large-Scale Livestock Farms

The Environmental Protection Agency has decided that it will no longer pursue case against West Virginia farmer Lois Alt’s environmental actions on her poultry farm. But the agency will not give up their fight challenging the actions of CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations) in other parts of the country.

It has been reported that EPA’s dispute with Alt began when the agency issued an order threatening her with $37,500 per day fine. The agency said that Alt was asked to pay fine and apply for a Clean Water Act permit for stormwater runoff from her farmyard.

But Alt filed a lawsuit challenging the EPA order. Her complaint cited the Clean Water Act an exemption of ‘agricultural stormwater discharges’. The dispute soon gained national attention as the American farm Bureau Federation and West Virginia Farm Bureau joined the lawsuit from Alt’s side.

Almost five other environmental groups favored the action taken by EPA. EPA most likely will be continuing to take the large-scale livestock farms to court.

But six months after Alt filed suit, and just a week before briefing was to begin, EPA withdrew its orders and asked the court to dismiss the suit.

The court refused it and in October 2013, the US Court for the Northern District of West Virginia gave a decision against EPA and favored Alt.

AFBF claims that EPA’s voluntary dismissal of its appeal shows that the agency wants to ignore a likely loss in the appellate court.

Gary Baise, a lawyer at OFW Law who commonly represents agricultural operations in water litigation, said Alt’s case is crucial in defending livestock operations in court. He also claimed that EPA is still trying to fight against the stromwater exemption.

EPA assistant administrator Cynthia Giles said, “The law gives EPA the authority to require that agriculture operations with large numbers of animals in a small area that discharge pollutants to U.S. waters obtain a permit, to reduce their environmental impact”.

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