WASHINGTON — Taking aim at the Environmental Protection Agency in support of a Farm Bureau member, the American Farm Bureau Federation recently filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit concerning EPA’s authority to regulate poultry and livestock farms under the Clean Water Act.AFBF filed to intervene on the side of West Virginia poultry grower Lois Alt, who brought suit to challenge an EPA order demanding that Alt obtain an unnecessary and costly CWA discharge permit.AFBF was joined in the motion by the West Virginia Farm Bureau.Action. Alt sued EPA in June after the agency ordered her to obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System discharge permit. EPA’s order threatens Alt with $37,500 in daily fines for storm water that may come into contact with dust, feathers or dander deposited on the ground outside of poultry house ventilation fans, or small amounts of manure that may be present in the farmyard as a result of normal poultry farming operations.EPA also seeks separate fines if Alt fails to apply for an NPDES permit for the alleged “discharge” of storm water from her farmyard.“Lois Alt runs an exemplary operation and has even won awards for the environmental stewardship she practices on her farm,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “Her efforts to defend herself and her family farm against an illegal EPA order are commendable.”In the past. In two prior court cases, AFBF has defeated EPA regulations that illegally attempted to impose broad NPDES permit requirements for thousands of livestock and poultry farmers whose operations have no regulated discharge.According to AFBF’s intervention papers, EPA’s order to Alt represents another attempt to regulate non-discharging farmers — this time by unlawfully narrowing the statutory exemption for “agricultural storm water discharges.”EPA has claimed in the Alt case that the statutory exemption for “agricultural storm water discharges” does not apply to larger farms that qualify as concentrated animal feeding operations except for “land application areas” where crops are grown.“EPA basically claims that Lois Alt’s family farm isn’t agricultural and rainwater from her farmyard isn’t agricultural storm water, just because she houses more than a certain number of chickens,” said Stallman.“AFBF has asked to join this lawsuit on behalf of the thousands of other livestock and poultry farmers threatened by EPA’s extreme and unlawful restriction of the agricultural storm water exemption.”
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