Environmentalists want to join lawsuit in Chesapeake Bay watershed dispute
By The Associated Press
Published: Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012, 3:54 p.m.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Several environmental groups want a federal judge to let them join a lawsuit by a West Virginia chicken grower who is challenging water-pollution rules aimed at cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
U.S. District Judge John Preston Bailey has allowed the American and West Virginia Farm Bureaus to intervene in Lois Alt's complaint against the Environmental Protection Agency. She wants the court to stop the EPA from imposing permitting rules on her Eight is Enough farm in Hardy County, arguing the agency is overstepping its legal authority.
The farm bureaus argue the outcome of the case has implications for poultry farmers nationwide, and an EPA victory could require them to seek discharge permits that they don't all currently need.
Now Potomac Riverkeeper, West Virginia Rivers Coalition, Waterkeeper Alliance, Center for Food Safety and Food & Water Watch want to join. They said on Friday they support the EPA's goal of cleaning up the watershed and say Alt's farm should not be exempt from the Clean Water Act.
Concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, are major pollution sources that discharge nitrogen, phosphorus and fecal bacteria into waterways the public has a right to enjoy, they argue. Those pollutants can make waterways unsafe for swimming and trigger algae blooms that choke off oxygen, endangering fish and other aquatic creatures.
“We cannot afford to have our delicate and valuable waterways become dumping grounds for factory farms,” said Angie Rosser, director of the West Virginia Rivers Coalition.
The complaint says farms and other agricultural facilities are the biggest source of pollution to the Chesapeake Bay, “resulting in the slow death of a water body that was historically one of the most productive and biologically diverse estuaries in North America.”
Alt sued the EPA in June, acknowledging that there is waste-tainted runoff from her farm. But she argues it's agricultural storm water, not “process wastewater” that would be subject to regulation under the Clean Water Act.
She wants the court to set aside the EPA's order, which could result in fines of up to $37,500 a day if she's found in violation of what she calls an arbitrary, capricious and illegal action.
In fall, the EPA determined that dust, feathers and fine particles of dander and manure from Alt's poultry house ventilation fans 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.
“This case should not be used as a tool to create new exemptions from established and vital environmental laws,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety. “Factory farms cannot be allowed to use the Potomac — or any waterway — as a private sewer.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- PennDOT to pay team of companies for bridge repairs under single contract
- Allegheny College journalism conference to share story next door
- Doylestown church embraces Zimbabwe couple
- Lawmaker: Responders should carry drug that counteracts opiates
- Bill would let local police use radar guns
- Family of curlers sets sights on ’18 Olympics
- W.Va. man dies in Greene County ATV crash
- Penn State on pace for record number of applications
- Penn State trustee resigns, regrets Paterno vote
- $1.5M grant will pay for Presque Isle sand
- Retired Pa. Game Commission chief to get $220K severance payment