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Circuit Court Rules on CAFO Permits

by 5m Editor
16 May 2011, at 8:54am

US - The judges of the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit have ruled that the Clean Water Act did not give the EPA the authority to require Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations to obtain discharge permits on the presumption they would discharge pollution to the waters of the state.

According to KMZU, the National Pork Producers Council called the decision a major victory. Since 2008, the EPA has required all animal farms that qualified as CAFOs to get permits.

The EPA’s assumption that a farm with no record of discharges would violate the law in the future was, in the judges’ words, – an attempt by EPA to create from whole cloth new liability provisions. The CWA simply does not authorize this type of supplementation to its comprehensive liability scheme.

The court declared the farms only need permits if they actually discharged – a violation of the Clean Water Act. The likelihood that they would discharge was not enough to trigger the permitting process, which farmers find cumbersome and expensive. The ruling is only binding for now in the Fifth Circuit, which covers Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.