MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A federal judge says officials with the federal Environmental Protection Agency overreached when they tried to force a Hardy County chicken farmer to get pollution permits for stormwater runoff from her farm property.
U.S. District Judge John Preston Bailey ruled this week that stormwater from Lois Alt’s Eight is Enough farm is not subject to EPA regulation under the Clean Water Act.
Stephen Butler, West Virginia Farm Bureau Administrator, said it’s the right decision. “I think it’s a win, not only for Lois Alt and her poultry operation, but a win for farmers across the state and across the nation,” he said.
The EPA had tried to force Alt to get a permit for litter and manure washed from the property by rain and threatened her with a fine of $37,500 a day if she did not comply.
“This is not about loads of litter being dumped outside and exposed to rainwater. Mrs. Alt has run a very clean farm that has received several environmental quality awards in the past,” said Butler.
“This is small amounts of dust that came from the fans, feathers, and incidental spillage which was very miniscule.”
The EPA withdrew the permit requirement for Alt when she filed a lawsuit in federal court, arguing the discharges the EPA was focused on were exempt from the permitting process. Alt continued to pursue the case because of the possible effects on other poultry farms.
In his ruling, Judge Bailey said the following:
“It appears to be a central assumption of the EPA’s position that the agricultural stormwater discharge exemption had no meaning whatsoever from the time the exemption was added to the statute in 1987 until the EPA promulgated its new regulations in 2003,” he wrote. “This is an assumption that this Court simply cannot accept.”
Butler was a guest on Thursday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”