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Re: E-M:/ CAFO Lawsuits for Illegal Discharges



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Enviro-Mich message from anne.woiwode@sfsierra.sierraclub.org
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     Tom:  
     
     The Catch 22 view of the DEQ and the State toward enforcement of water 
     quality laws at CAFOs has already been found to be "seriously lacking" 
     by the USEPA in their interim report on your agency's obligations 
     regarding the Clean Water Act NPDES program as delegated by USEPA.  
     Perhaps you can enlighten us on how the state is responding to the 
     extraordinarily troubling findings of that report (which is available 
     on the web for those who have not yet seen it at 
     http://www.epa.gov/r5water/npdestek/npdcafohome.htm )
     
     
     What we are doing is making sure that the idiotic and dangerous 
     attitude of the State of Michigan to the epidemic of CAFO expansion 
     and pollution in our state that "a little cow or pig poop won't hurt 
     anyone" is not tolerated anymore.  
     
     What we (and MEC and MLUI) have done is to start the ball rolling on 
     forcing the state to do its job, in part by petitioning EPA to 
     withdraw your authority.  One direct effect is that USEPA is doing 
     significantly expanded investigations on facilities the DEQ has 
     already investigated, such as the Hartland Farms, where DEQ 
     investigators failed to discover that the facility had connected a 
     storm drain into its field tiles and was using this direct outlet to a 
     stream to discharge manure and other ag wastes.  
     
     What we have done by filing notices of intent to sue against the two 
     facilities the state has now entered consent judgments on was 
     evidently to elevate these two to the point where the state took 
     additional action, which you now would pretend was entirely of your 
     own doing.  Gosh, an amazing coincidence, isn't it?
     
     We are doing just about everything the average citizen has the ability 
     to do in this state to get a recalcitrant environmental agency to do 
     its job.  The only thing we CAN'T do, and so haven't yet done, is to 
     do your job for you.
     
     Anne
     
Dear Anne:
     
Well, I guess we will have to "....agree to disagree.." on this issue.  The DEQ 
position is that these agricultural producers should have NO DISCHARGE  (zero, z
ip, nada, nein, nyet....) to the waters of the State.  Therefore, we should NOT 
issue them a permit to discharge.  Pretty simple.
     
I don't see how you can say that "...DEQ has...failed to do the job." and that t
here is a failure to enforce the law.  We sued the violators in Circuit Court an
d have court orders preventing any future discharges.  That IS enforcing the law
.  It's what we do every day.
     
The court orders require corrective programs to protect the waters of the 
state;payment of  penalties and cost recovery for the violations cited in our 
 complaint; etc.   I think that we've accomplished a lot.  What has the Sierra 
Club accom plished? (...zero, zip, nada, nein, nyet...).
     
Sincerely,
TOM
     
     
     
     
     
Thomas K. Rohrer, Chief
Enforcement Unit
SURFACE WATER QUALITY DIVISION
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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ENVIRO-MICH:  Internet List and Forum for Michigan Environmental
and Conservation Issues and Michigan-based Citizen Action.   Archives at
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