The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has no legal right to force a West Virginia poultry grower to obtain water pollution permits for runoff from her Hardy County farm because it is routine stormwater discharge, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.We've been following the story of the Alt farm law suits for a long time now. Originally, the EPA sued the Alt's under the Clean Water Act, threatening fines of $37,500 a day, and denying that the courts had any right to intervene in the regulatory action.
U.S. District Judge John Preston Bailey said litter and manure washed by rain into Chesapeake Bay tributaries at Lois Alt's Hardy County farm is agricultural runoff, not a fixed pollution source such as a factory. That means it's exempt from the requirement that it be permitted and regulated under the federal Clean Water Act, he said.
"The term 'agricultural stormwater discharge' was not and has not been defined in the statute" covering permitting, Bailey wrote. "The fact that Congress found it unnecessary to define the term indicates that the term should be given its ordinary meaning."
EPA fought the entry of the Farm Bureau (and mostly the farm Bureaus money being used against them) into the suit, but lost. EPA saw the handwriting on the wall fairly quickly, and decided to run away and fight another day, and dropped the law suit. The Farm Bureau backed the Alts and sought to keep the suits in force so they could get a judicial ruling on the question of whether random agricultural litter could be treated as an industrial source by the EPA.
Along the way, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation wanted to file in support of EPA, but was denied.
The Farm Bureau and the Alts prevailed, and the EPA was forced into court, and, as they feared, lost.
Previous posts on the Alt farm controversy:
Chesapeake Farmers Fear Regulation
EPA Drops Chicken Shit Law Suit
EPA to Farm Bureau: Butt Out!
Farmers Win Right To Help Fellow in Fight With EPA
Chicken Shit Farmer Wants Day In Court
Chicken Rancher Sues EPA
Man Bites Dog
CBF Denied Entry into Shitty Court Case
CBF Challanges Exclusion from Chicken Shit Law Suit