The American Farm Bureau Federation Monday, together with a West Virginia poultry farmer, asked the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia to rule that livestock and poultry farmers do not need Clean Water Act discharge permits for stormwater runoff in farmyards.
The request was made in a legal filing as a follow up to a complaint first voiced in 2012 that alleged the Environmental Protection Agency unlawfully charged the poultry farmer, Lois Alt, with failing to obtain a CWA permit to account for stormwater runoff from her property.
Alt, AFBF and the West Virginia Farm Bureau, allege that EPA's order requiring that Alt obtain a permit or face nearly $38,000 in fines each time stormwater came in contact with dust, feathers or trace manure on the ground in her farmyard, is out of line because of agricultural stormwater exemptions.
Though the EPA dropped the order, the court ruled the original case should be heard to clarify whether discharge permits are required for "ordinary precipitation runoff from a typical farmyard."
AFBF President Bob Stallman said the case will be an opportunity to explain "how the EPA is misinterpreting the Clean Water Act and unlawfully using the full force of the federal government to force farmers to seek permits when they are not discharging to waters."
Monday's filing also asks the court to rule that EPA exceeded its authority in finding stormwater from Alt's farmyard was a Clean Water Act discharge and in ordering Alt to obtain permit coverage.
EPA is expected to file its own motion with the court defending its position on Aug. 1. Several environmental groups, such as Food and Water Watch and Center for Food Safety, have intervened on behalf of EPA and will likely file a brief as well.