9th Circuit Cancels Factory Farm License for Idaho

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  • Statewide permit lacks CAFO pollutant release monitoring requirements

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(Reuters) – A federal appeals court on Thursday rejected a water permit that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) granted Idaho for factory farms, also known as animal feed operations Concentrated (CAFO), citing deficiencies in its environmental monitoring requirements.

In a victory for food and environmental groups that sued under the Clean Water Act, a panel of the 9th United States Court of Appeals ruled that the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES ) state lacked sufficient safeguards to ensure that pollutants from CAFOs, typically manure from thousands of animals raised in facilities or litter, would not end up in nearby waterways.

EPA spokesperson Tim Carroll declined to comment.

Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) spokeswoman Mary Anne Nelson said the agency was working with the EPA “to determine the future of licensing for CAFOs in Idaho.” and apply for a new “compliant” license.

Tarah Heinzen, the legal director of co-plaintiff Food & Water Watch, said in a statement: “Today’s decision is a major blow to the EPA’s practice of granting (…) treatment. special to the factory farm industry. “

CAFOs keep livestock and poultry, often in the tens of thousands, in confined spaces instead of pasture.

Idaho is home to about 365 CAFOs, according to EPA data, mostly from dairy farms and cattle feedlots in the southern state, according to the ruling.

Food & Water Watch and Snake River Waterkeeper challenged the permit issued months before last June, alleging that its issuance was arbitrary and capricious because its lack of monitoring requirements threatens ecosystems and human health by preventing the reporting of illegal discharges.

Manure contains pollutants like nitrogen and phosphorus, which can fuel the growth of algal blooms that choke aquatic life, and may also contain E. coli bacteria. It can seep into surface and ground water in lagoons where it is stored, or run off fields where it is applied as a fertilizer.

In Thursday’s ruling, US circuit judge William Fletcher said that while the permit’s daily inspection requirements allow sufficient monitoring of “surface” releases, it does not contain any monitoring provisions for “underground” releases. CAFO sites.

Overhead releases can be lagoons overflowing on land, while underground releases can leach through the bottom of a lagoon.

“The fact that the permit does not require such monitoring is striking,” Fletcher wrote.

The judge also noted an absence of runoff monitoring requirements resulting from the application of manure and litter to fields in dry weather.

Fletcher was joined by U.S. Circuit Judge Michelle Friedland and U.S. District Senior Judge Frederic Block, who sat by designation.

There are over 21,000 CAFOs in the United States, according to EPA data. Nationally, CAFOs generate more than 500 million tonnes of animal manure each year, according to the ruling.

The case is Food & Water Watch, Inc., et al v USEPA, 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 20-71554.

For Food & Water Watch, Inc., et al: Tyler Lobdell with Food & Water Watch.

For USEPA: Benjamin Grillot of the US Department of Justice.

Read more:

Enviros sues EPA over livestock wastewater

Denial of SCOTUS certification strengthens Indiana CAFOs’ protection from nuisance lawsuits

Sebastien malo

Sébastien Malo reporters on environmental, climate and energy litigation. Contact him at [email protected]


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