Judge: WV farmer's lawsuit vs. EPA will be heard - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Judge: WV farmer's lawsuit vs. EPA will be heard

Posted: Updated:
  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Sistersville Woman Crowned Mrs. West Virginia, Will Compete for National Title

    Sistersville Woman Crowned Mrs. West Virginia, Will Compete for National Title

    Tuesday, July 15 2014 4:17 AM EDT2014-07-15 08:17:38 GMT
    A Sistersville mother, wife, and soon-to-be teacher, holds another very impressive title as she gets ready to take on the competition on a national stage.Mrs. West Virginia, Melissa Smith, will compete for the title of "Mrs.United States," in September. Smith travels throughout the state right now helping to push her platform. "Right now, I'm very focused on improving literacy education. I'm going to be an elementary school teacher and I have been traveling throughout West Virginia reading to...
    A Sistersville mother, wife, and soon-to-be teacher, holds another very impressive title as she gets ready to take on the competition on a national stage.Mrs. West Virginia, Melissa Smith, will compete for the title of "Mrs.United States," in September. Smith travels throughout the state right now helping to push her platform. "Right now, I'm very focused on improving literacy education. I'm going to be an elementary school teacher and I have been traveling throughout West Virginia reading to...
  • Federal judge in Martinsburg, West Virginia, sends 10 to prison for violating probation

    Federal judge in Martinsburg, West Virginia, sends 10 to prison for violating probation

    Sunday, July 6 2014 11:00 AM EDT2014-07-06 15:00:12 GMT
    Nine Martinsburg, West Virginia, residents and another from Keyser were sentenced to federal prison for breaking the law while they were on supervised release or probation.
    Nine Martinsburg, West Virginia, residents and another from Keyser were sentenced to federal prison for breaking the law while they were on supervised release or probation.

VICKI SMITH, Associated Press

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is still exerting a permit power that chicken growers contend it doesn't have, so a federal judge said he won't dismiss a lawsuit by a West Virginia farmer the agency had accused of polluting the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

The EPA argued Lois Alt's lawsuit was rendered moot in December, when it withdrew violation notices and proposed fines against her Eight is Enough farm in Hardy County. But Alt, the West Virginia Farm Bureau and the American Farm Bureau want their day in court, claiming the EPA's actions in her case have implications for farmers throughout the region.

U.S. District Judge John Preston Bailey agreed last week, denying EPA's motion to dismiss. The agency had not yet filed a response as of Tuesday.

In his ruling, Bailey said the EPA hasn't changed its underlying position that some chicken farms are concentrated animal feeding operations and are now required to obtain permits they've never previously needed under the Clean Water Act.

The EPA has also issued orders to two other farmers in West Virginia and Virginia that were virtually identical to the one issued against Alt, Bailey said.

"EPA's adherence to its underlying position ... demonstrates that the agency's challenged assertion of authority not only can be 'reasonably expected to recur,' but in fact is ongoing even now," Bailey wrote.

"EPA plainly has not withdrawn, rescinded, repudiated or otherwise altered its legal position that — despite the statutory exemption for agricultural storm water — farmyard storm water must be regulated through a federally mandated permit," he wrote.

Although EPA did send a letter withdrawing Alt's violations, Bailey noted, it did not explain the basis for its change of heart. Nor is Alt's mere compliance with the agency's demands enough to make the case moot.

"Otherwise, a defendant could engage in unlawful conduct, stop when sued to have the case declared moot," Bailey wrote, "then pick up where he left off, repeating this cycle until he achieves all his unlawful ends."

The EPA said dust, feathers, and fine particles of dander and manure from Alt's chicken farm could land on the ground, come into contact with storm water and flow into ditches, eventually reaching Chesapeake Bay tributaries.

The EPA is focused on protecting the watershed, which encompasses parts of Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia and all of the District of Columbia.

Alt acknowledged there is waste-tainted runoff from her farm but argued it was agricultural storm water, not "process wastewater" that would be subject to regulation under the Clean Water Act.

 

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press