Environmental groups are reacting to a ruling from a federal judge which says the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has no legal right to force a West Virginia chicken farmer to obtain pollution permits for runoff from her Hardy County farm.
U.S. District Judge John Preston Bailey ruled that the runoff entering the Chesapeake Bay watershed from Lois Alt's poultry farm is stormwater and therefore not subject to regulation under the Clean Water Act.
Alt admitted that pollutants from the poultry houses are being discharged into the South Branch of the Potomac River, but objects to a requirement to operate under a permit. The farm bureaus called EPA's attempt to require a permit an illegal overreach of authority.
Several organizations supported the EPA's efforts including Potomac Riverkeeper, West Virginia Rivers Coalition, Waterkeeper Alliance, Center for Food Safety, Food and Water Watch and Earthjustice. The groups said ina press release that the court’s decision could have devastating impacts on the health of the watershed. The groups say they’re exploring legal options.