Hardy County, W.Va., poultry farmer Lois Alt is letting the Environmental Protection Agency know its efforts to overstep its bounds will not go without a fight, even if that fight must come from the little guy.
When the EPA told Alt she needed to get water pollution permits for the storm-water runoff on her property, she sued. Typical of bullies, when met with that resistance, the EPA rescinded the violations. However, it has now turned to the court system, hoping to receive affirmation that it can force poultry farmers to get permits for the water runoff from their operations, which the EPA insists constitutes "pollution."
In Alt's case, the EPA says it is concerned about dust, feathers, and fine particles of dander and manure from the farm, which could land on the ground, come into contact with storm water and flow into ditches. With that reasoning, the EPA should be thinking of rounding up every animal and bird in the woods and making sure they have the proper permits to go about their lives. One wonders what fits the EPA suffers over the knowledge that fish have not filled out the proper forms for disposal of raw sewage.
"EPA's order to Alt represents an effort to regulate non-discharging farmers by unlawfully narrowing the statutory exemption for 'agricultural storm water discharges,'" the American Farm Bureau Federation said. The group intervened in Alt's case because, of course, the implications go far beyond one West Virginia county.
In its motion for summary judgment, seeking judicial backup in its ongoing assault on as many parts of the nation's economy as it can damage, the EPA claimed its authority to do so is clear. What is really clear is the EPA's inability to restrain the impulse to expand and impose that authority, no matter who it hurts.