Thursday, January 17, 2013

The EPA's war on farms suffers a setback

Count farms among the various businesses our government is trying to destroy.

The EPA said in November 2011 that Lois Alt and her husband needed a Clean Water Act discharge permit because rainwater on their farm could come into contact with dust, feathers or small amounts of chicken manure that strayed out of the large barns where they raise their flocks. Rainwater at Eight Is Enough Farms empties into Mudlick Run, a stream 200 yards away from the edge of the property.

The agency had warned the Alts that they could be fined up to $37,500 — per day — if they failed to apply for the permit, and another $37,500 per day if the government moved to enforce the Clean Water Act against them....

The EPA’s threat was an attempt to define rainwater on livestock farms as a pollution “point source” under the Clean Water Act if it comes into contact with animal waste....

Fortunately, all is well that ends well, at least for this farm at this moment.
The case mobilized agriculture organizations against what they saw as bureaucratic bullying that could impact thousands of other farmers. Green groups saw it as an opportunity to give the EPA tighter control over what they have derisively called “factory farms.”
The EPA, it turns out, did not have the legal confidence to fight the case in front of a federal judge. They withdrew the case in mid-December after torturing the Alts for a year.

Why, though, should chicken farmers have to sit in agonized limbo over their livelihoods while the EPA tests out a legal theory that would seem counter to existing law (which excludes run-off from farms from the definition)? The case stems from the trial lawyer mentality of our current government's regulatory leadership, which is intent on squeezing the maximum power out of existing statutes whatever the obvious intent of Congress and regardless of the consequences to American enterprise.


  1. To bad the case was allowed to be withdrawn. A court ruling against the EPA would have been far more useful, and the Alts' recovery of their costs from the government would have been both useful to the Alts and highly symbolic.

    Eric Hines

  2. Agree with Eric


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