Friday, December 21, 2012

EPA Drops Chicken Shit Law Suit

No this is not the same suit as the post immediately below this one.  These are two different chicken shit law suits against two different farmers in different states, with the suits coming from different institutions being settled on the same day:

EPA cries ‘uncle’ in face of lawsuit, withdraws threat against W.Va. chicken farmer
The Environmental Protection Agency is backing off from a controversial lawsuit that brought farming groups out of the woodwork to defend a West Virginia farmer against charges that chicken droppings violated the Clean Water Act because rains could carry them into a stream located two football fields away.

The case mobilized agriculture organizations against what they saw as bureaucratic bullying that could impact thousands of other farmers. Green groups saw it as an opportunity to give the EPA tighter control over what they have derisively called “factory farms.”
In fact, in one of the bolder moves EPA made in this case, they attempted to prevent the Farm Bureau organizations from joining the suit on behalf of the Alts, claiming they shouldn't be allowed to because the suit would only affect the Alts.  The Farm Bureau won the right to help the Alts, with the argument that other farmers are likely to be subject to similar suits.  In fact, three similar suits are still pending.

The EPA said in November 2011 that Lois Alt and her husband needed a Clean Water Act discharge permit because rainwater on their farm could come into contact with dust, feathers or small amounts of chicken manure that strayed out of the large barns where they raise their flocks. Rainwater at Eight Is Enough Farms empties into Mudlick Run, a stream 200 yards away from the edge of the property.

The agency had warned the Alts that they could be fined up to $37,500 — per day — if they failed to apply for the permit, and another $37,500 per day if the government moved to enforce the Clean Water Act against them. But in a Dec. 13 letter, the EPA told their attorney it had withdrawn last year’s order entirely.
One reason they may have dropped this suit is that the Supreme Court recently ruled against EPAs attempt to force Idaho landowners into submission with fine of up to $75,000 per day, which could not be appealed in court were unconstitutional.  This limits their ability to strong arm the farmer considerably.

Alt told the agency in February that she intended to ignore the order. She sued the federal government in June, insisting that the threat was “arbitrary, capricious, not in accordance with the law, and in excess of the EPA’s jurisdiction and authority.”

The EPA’s threat was an attempt to define rainwater on livestock farms as a pollution “point source” under the Clean Water Act if it comes into contact with animal waste.

While the Clean Water Act considers animal barns themselves pollution point sources in some cases — if manure spills and seeps into rivers, lakes or streams, for instance — a sweeping 1972 amendment to the law specifically said point sources do “not include agricultural stormwater discharges.”
Again, the cases smells chicken shit, of an attempt to make a federal case out of a small problem in order to crucify a few farmers as an example for others

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