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Re: E-M:/ Sierra Club CAFO Lawsuits--Wazzzup??

Enviro-Mich message from anne.woiwode@sfsierra.sierraclub.org

     Dear Tom:  A major oversight in the DEQ "enforcement" action is that 
     it failed to require, as required under both State law and Federal 
     law, that these facilities seek and obtain NPDES permits from the 
     State of Michigan. The DEQ continues its game of ignoring the 
     bottomline issue -- your failure to enforce to both Michigan law and 
     the Clean Water Act.  
     Nice try, but DEQ has still failed to do the job.  
     For the uninitiated, this action by the DEQ appears to be an effort simply 
     to preempt the Sierra Club's notice of intent to sue against these two 
     concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).  The state continues its 
     defiance of the plain face of both Michigan and US regulations and law 
     regarding water quality, most especially the requirement to bring these 
     enormous concentrated animal feeding facilities under permits.
     Why are permits important?  Below, taken from an analysis prepared for 
     Sierra Club, are the most important reasons:
     * Permits incorporate federal standards for CAFO pollution control.  NPDES 
     permits incorporate pollution limits based on the most effective technology 
     available to control pollution in a particular industry.  Having 
     specifically studied the pollution associated with CAFOs and available 
     technology, the federal Environmental Protection Agency has issued 
     regulations setting the limit for large CAFOs at zero discharge.  Permits 
     thus ensure that facilities are held to appropriately stringent standards 
     of environmentally responsible operation.  In addition to pollution limits, 
     permits also include other important conditions, such as the duty to 
     operate and maintain the facility and treatment equipment and to minimize 
     or prevent violations that are likely to affect the environment or human 
     * Permitted facilities are subject to greater oversight by state and 
     federal regulators.  State or federal authorities may immediately enforce 
     permit violations, and if they fail to take appropriate action, private 
     citizens can bring an enforcement action.  By contrast, a facility without 
     a permit is only subject to enforcement if violations come to the attention 
     of government regulators through citizen complaints or otherwise.
     *  Permits require extensive monitoring and reporting.  The permit 
     specifies the type, location, and frequency of sampling that the facility 
     must conduct.  In the event of a discharge, the facility must report the 
     discharge to government regulators by submitting a "Discharge Monitoring 
     Report."  Discharge Monitoring Reports can be an essential way for 
     government and citizens to become aware of pollution problems at a 
     particular facility.
     *  Permits help ensure continued oversight.  The holder of an NPDES permit 
     has a duty to report any planned changes to the facility or transfers of 
     ownership.  The permit also gives the permitting authority the right to 
     enter and inspect the facility, take samples, and have access to its 
     records.  These provisions greatly assist the permitting agency in its 
     enforcement efforts.
     *  The permitting process affords opportunities for public participation.  
     Before a permitting authority issues a final permit, it releases to the 
     public a draft permit and information about the facility.  A public comment 
     period follows, allowing interested citizens to submit comments on the 
     draft and request a public hearing.  If the permitting authority decides to 
     schedule a hearing, the public may also submit statements and data in this 
     forum.  Through this process, the public has a chance to inform the 
     permitting authority of its concerns, which can then be accounted for in 
     the final permit.
     There are MANY good reasons for the DEQ to catch up with the rest of the 
     nation and require permits on facilities that are CAFOs, aside from 
     following the law.
     Anne Woiwode, Sierra Club 
     Mr./Ms. Druid:
     While I don't know what the Sierra Club is doing, I am pleased to report 
     the fol lowing  (DEQ Press Release):
     October 3, 2000
     Contact: Ken Silfven
     (517) 241-7397
     The Department of Environmental Quality, in cooperation with the Michigan 
     Depart ment of Attorney General, has filed civil lawsuits against two West 
     Michigan agr icultural producers for violating state water-quality laws.
     Judgments have been entered with the 30th District Court in Ingham County 
     to cor rect the problems and resolve the legal violations.
     Lawsuits were filed on Sept. 22 charging Bradford Dairy Farms Inc., a Kent 
     Count y dairy producer; and River Ridge Farms Inc., a cattle and crop 
     production opera tion in Coopersville, with illegally discharging manure 
     and other wastes into st ate waters. The state alleges that the discharges 
     occurred due to improper manur e management practices at both farms.
     "It does not pay to pollute in Michigan," DEQ Director Russell Harding 
     said. "Ag ricultural producers as a group are committed to operating in an 
     environmentallyresponsible manner. But we will move swiftly to protect our 
     state's resources when problems arise. I applaud the professionalism of the 
     DEQ's Surface Water Qual ity Division enforcement unit and the Department 
     of Attorney General in handlingthese cases."
     Both defendants have agreed to settle the lawsuits by entry of a 
     court-monitoredconsent judgment that requires them to improve manure 
     and disposal practices, and pay civil penalties for the violations.
     Bradford Dairy Farms, which operates five separate facilities in and around 
     Spar ta, has agreed to develop and implement improved manure handling, 
     storage and ap plication practices at its operations. This will be done by 
     preparing a comprehe nsive manure management plan for its operations in 
     accordance with standards est ablished by the state and federal departments 
     of Agriculture.
     Bradford also agreed to pay $20,000 in penalties and to partially reimburse 
     the DEQ for $4,000 of the agency's costs for conducting compliance and 
     enforcement a ctions.
     River Ridge Farms Inc. also is required to implement a comprehensive 
     nutrient ma nagement plan for all of its animal feeding operations that 
     will prevent any fut ure unlawful discharges to the waters of the state.
     River Ridge Farms has further agreed to pay a total penalty of $25,000 for 
     past illegal discharges. Of this amount, $15,000 will be paid to the state 
     and $10,00 0 will be donated as a supplemental environmental project to 
     Grand Valley State University for water research projects in the Deer Creek 
     watershed. River Ridge also will reimburse the DEQ $6,000 to settle the 
     agency's claims for compliance and enforcement costs.
Since 1992, the DEQ's Surface Water Quality Division enforcement team has settle
d 12 administrative actions and two litigated cases against agricultural produce
rs who have violated Part 31 of Michigan's Natural Resources and Environmental P
rotection Act. There currently are three additional pending judicial actions 
andseveral administrative actions under way.
The collective settlements have resulted in more than $100,000 in civil penaltie
s being paid to the state, about $45,000 in administrative cost reimbursement, a
nd over $20,000 in natural resource damage restitution. Cash donations also 
weremade as part of some settlements to local environmental groups to improve 
 water quality in the local watershed. These supplemental environmental projects 
provid e direct benefits to the impacted resource.
More important than penalty dollars, these settlements have resulted in more tha
n $500,000 in expenditures for corrective actions to prevent future illegal disc
harges to Michigan waters.
Revised October 3, 2000 by Deb Miller 
The HTML version of this press release can be found at our web site at:
Thomas K. Rohrer, Chief
Enforcement Unit
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality 
P.O. Box 30273
Lansing,  MI  48909-7773
(517) 335-4101
(517) 373-2040 - fax
e-mail = rohrert@state.mi.us
"Protecting and enhancing the quality of Michigan's surface waters"
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