On October 23, 2013, the United States District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia ruled in favor of plaintiffs American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and Lois Alt, a poultry producer, over the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a Clean Water Act suit. The EPA claimed that runoff from Ms. Alt’s ventilation-fan in her farmyard was being carried by rainwater to a nearby “navigable water/water of the United States,” giving the EPA jurisdiction to require Ms. Alt to obtain a permit for the runoff. The judge disagreed, however, and enjoined the EPA from requiring Ms. Alt to obtain a Clean Water Act National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit. The court stated that the “agricultural storm water discharge exemption” in the Clean Water Act exempts the runoff (dust, feathers, and litter) from the farmyard area outside Ms. Alt’s barn’s exhaust system from EPA jurisdiction. The judge stated that the farmyard area is not the “production area” of Ms. Alt’s concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO), and therefore Ms. Alt does not need to obtain a permit for the runoff because it is within the exemption.
For more information, please see the court’s opinion on AFBF’s website.
Written by Sarah L. Doyle - Research Assistant
The Agricultural Law Resource and Reference Center
October 28, 2013