The Environmental Protection Agency has withdrawn its order against West Virginia poultry grower Lois Alt which had stated the farmer must obtain a Clean Water Act discharge permit for stormwater runoff from her farmyard or face up to $37,500 in penalties per day. The order withdrawal comes after the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia ruled in October that the American Farm Bureau Federation and West Virginia Farm Bureau had the right to join the lawsuit Alt filed in response to the order.
In withdrawing its order, the agency cited new management practices identified during a May 2012 re-inspection of the farm. However, the inspection report also states that dust, feathers and small amounts of manure were still observed on the ground at the farm, which was the basis of the agency's original order, according to American Farm Bureau Federation General Counsel Ellen Steen. “The EPA still has not backed away from its position that any amount of pollutant on the ground at a livestock or poultry farm requires a Clean Water Act permit,” said Steen. “The more likely reason for the EPA’s withdrawal is that it does not want to defend its position in court.”
The Environmental protection Agency's November 2011 order said Alt would have to pay $37,500 in fines each time stormwater came into contact with dust, feathers or small amounts of manure on the ground outside of her poultry houses as a result of normal poultry farming operations. The agency also listed separate fines of $37,500 per day if Alt failed to apply for a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit. Alt responded by filing her own legal challenge to the agency order in June 2012.