Rose Acre’s lawsuit ground zero for the dust and feathers issue
EPA seeks to intervene in Rose Acre Farms’ case to keep it out of federal court and keep it in North Carolina court.
The U.S. EPA and environmental groups have declined to appeal the Alt case, in which a federal district court judge ruled that feathers and other air emissions from a poultry house do not become a point source discharge when they fall to the ground and mix with rainwater, as EPA had contended.
Thomas Hebert, agricultural and environmental consultant, Bayard Ridge Group, told the audience at the United Egg Producers’ annual convention in Albuquerque, New Mexico, that the ruling wasn’t appealed, because the EPA and environmental groups hope to limit the effect of the decision just to that district court’s jurisdiction.
The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NCDENR) has attempted to use the same dust and feathers emissions strategy to compel Rose Acre Farms to take extraordinary measures to restrict ammonia emissions from its Hyde County, North Carolina, layer houses. Rose Acre Farms’ has brought a lawsuit in Federal District Court for Eastern North Carolina asking the court to block NCDENR from requiring a Clean Water Act National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for dust and feathers and other materials exhausted in the air from the layer houses.
Hebert said U.S. EPA wants to intervene in the Rose Acre case to keep it in state court and out of federal court. Hebert said, “The Rose Acre Farms lawsuit is now ground zero for the dust and feathers issue.”
Rose Acre Farms wants to keep the case in federal court and is also seeking a summary judgment. Farm Bureau and the United Egg Producers have joined Rose Acre Farms in this case. Hebert said that the fact that EPA wants to keep the case out of federal court is a sign that the agency isn’t optimistic about the outcome of the case and wants to prevent setting precedent against their dust and feathers as an emission position in another federal district court.