The legal battle over how to define agricultural stormwater — and exactly when permits are required for animal-farm operators — is not over yet in West Virginia.We've been following the story of the Alt Farm suit for quite a while now. It's been an amazing journey, with EPA filing suit, then attempting to drop the suit when it looked like they were going to lose, with the Alts and their supporters forcing the decision. Now EPA wants another bite of the apple.
The EPA filed a notice this month that it will appeal an October 2013 ruling by a federal district court judge that the agency had no legal right to demand that chicken farmer Lois Alt obtain a permit for her Hardy County operation.
Supporting the EPA in its appeal are several environmental groups, including Food and Water Watch, the Potomac Riverkeeper and Earthjustice.
At issue is whether certain types of discharges from the animal-feeding operation of a farm are considered agricultural stormwater and thus exempt from the Clean Water Act, or whether they are “process wastewater” from industrial operations and therefore regulated. (See our in-depth story on the issue here.)
One of the more interesting pieces of the story is how EPA fought the entry of farmers allies (the Farm Bureau) and went along with environmental NGO's doing the same on EPAs behalf.
Expect vigorous opposition from the agricultural community as the result of an EPA victory is essentially to bring agriculture under the same rules as a steel mill.
Note that this article comes from the Bay Journal, a nominally independent Chesapeake Bay news service, which just happens to be heavily funded by the EPA Bay Program.
Publication is made possible through grants from the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program Office, the Campbell Foundation for the Environment, the Town Creek Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Chesapeake Bay Office, the Chesapeake Bay Trust, and by donations from individuals. View expressed in theBay Journal do not necessarily reflect those of any governmental or grant-making organization.Previous posts on the Alt Farm case:
Chicken Rancher Sues EPA
EPA to Farm Bureau: Butt Out!
EPA Drops Chicken Shit Law Suit