The American Farm Bureau Federation on Thursday asked to join a West Virginia poultry producer in a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency, responding to the agency's "unlawful" charges that ventilation fans could lead to water pollution.
EPA's administrative order, which was delivered to producer Lois Alt on November 14, 2011, alleges that her poultry house ventilation fans emit dander, feathers and manure that "would come into contact with precipitation during rain events and generate process wastewater that is carried into the nearby man-made ditches."
The EPA allowed 90 days to comply with requests to submit an application for a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System due to the findings presented in the order, or pay fines of $37,500 per day of violation.
But, Alt refused to obtain the permits and instead filed a lawsuit against the EPA in June, claiming EPA investigators had not experience actual runoff, just the potential for it.
According to AFBF’s intervention papers, EPA’s order to Alt narrows the statutory exemption for “agricultural storm water discharges.” EPA has claimed in the Alt case that the statutory exemption for “agricultural storm water discharges” does not apply to larger farms that qualify as concentrated animal feeding operations except for “land application areas” where crops are grown.
According to the AFBF, EPA regulations that attempted to impose NPDES permit requirements for livestock and poultry farmers whose operations have no regulated discharge have been defeated in two prior court cases.
AFBF President Bob Stallman said Alt's efforts to defend herself from the "illegal" EPA order is commendable, and she her environmental stewardship is apparent.
"Lois Alt runs an exemplary operation and has even won awards for the environmental stewardship she practices on her farm,” Stallman said in a statement Friday.
Alt's operation houses 200,000 broilers under contract with Pilgrim's Pride. The West Virginia Farm Bureau reports that her farm has received an Environmental Stewardship Award from Pilgrim's Pride, which is based on appearance, environmentally friendly operations, and organizational practices of the farm.
The West Virginia Farm Bureau has also joined the case on Alt's behalf.