Groups seek stormwater ruling

Court asked to determine whether livestock and poultry farmers need Clean Water Act discharge permits for ordinary stormwater runoff.

In a joint filing July 1, the American Farm Bureau Federation, West Virginia Farm Bureau and West Virginia farmer Lois Alt, asked the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia to determine that livestock and poultry farmers do not need Clean Water Act discharge permits for ordinary stormwater runoff from their farmyards.

In April the court rejected efforts by the Environmental Protection Agency to dismiss Alt's case. This lawsuit began in 2012 when Alt challenged an EPA order demanding that she obtain a Clean Water Act discharge permit for ordinary stormwater runoff from her farmyard or face $37,500 in fines each time the stormwater came into contact with dust, feathers or small amounts of manure on the ground outside her poultry houses as a result of normal farming operations.

The motion 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, and opposing Farm Bureau and Alt’s motion on Aug. 1. Several environmental groups have intervened on behalf of EPA and will file a brief as well.

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