A federal judge ruled on October 23 that the Environmental Protection Agency had no legal right to force West Virginia poultry grower Lois Alt to obtain water pollution permits for litter, dust and feathers that rain may wash away and that runoff is not in violation of the Clean Water Act. U.S. District Judge John Preston Bailey said the runoff is not a fixed pollution source and is exempt from the requirement to obtain permits.
The dispute between Alt and the EPA dates back to 2011, when the agency threatened to fine Alt if she didn't seek a permit for her farm, which it called a "concentrated animal feeding operation." The 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 outside of her poultry houses.
Alt responded by filing her own legal challenge to the agency in June 2012. The EPA eventually withdrew the fines, but with the help of the American Farm Bureau Federation and the West Virginia Farm Bureau, Alt kept her case alive.
The ruling has drawn applause from poultry and agriculture groups.
"We applaud Judge Bailey's decision to issue a summary judgment. We are pleased that Ms. Alt's legal uncertainty has been resolved in her favor by a common sense ruling that is consistent with a clear understanding of the Clean Water Act," said John Starkey, president of the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association.