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E-M:/ Permit Commitment gets Harding Reprieve in Litigation

Enviro-Mich message from "Anne Woiwode" <anne.woiwode@sierraclub.org>

News from Michigan Sierra Club
109 East Grand River, Lansing, MI 48906 Phone (517) 484-2372 Fax (517)

For immediate Release                 		contact Anne Woiwode 517-484-2372
February 28, 2002				    or Aaron Isherwood 415-977-5680

Environmental Victory on Permits for Animal Factories Gets
DEQ Director Harding Dropped from Lawsuit

DEQ Director Russ Harding will have one less lawsuit to worry about if the
state of Michigan follows through as promised with requiring and processing
water permits for animal factories (concentrated animal feeding operations
or CAFOs).  In a joint stipulation filed with Federal District Court in
Grand Rapids on Thursday, the Sierra Club agreed to drop the Director of the
Department of Environmental Quality from its lawsuit against River Ridge
Farms factory farms.

Director Harding was dropped from the suit because the DEQ has recently
promised to enforce the Clean Water Act by issuing a general permit for
animal factories throughout the state.  The stipulation also gives Sierra
Club the right to bring Harding back into the lawsuit in the event the state
fails to keep its commitments to establish a permitting program for these

The Sierra Club added Harding to its Clean Water Act citizens suit against
the Ottawa County operation in August 2001 because the state had refused to
process a water quality permit for the factory's manure wastes, which were
polluting nearby streams. River Ridge Farms has racked up numerous
violations of numerous water quality protections over the last fifteen
years.  However, after the Sierra Club gave notice of their intent to sue
River Ridge, the factory owner submitted a permit application to the state,
which has yet to be processed.  In adding Harding to the lawsuit, Sierra
Club pointed out that River Ridge Farms would not be able to come into
compliance with the Clean Water Act until it had obtained a permit from the
state, and that the state was refusing to process the permit application.

On January 14th, responding to the threat that the US EPA would withdraw
Michigan's authority to run the Clean Water Act programs in Michigan,
Harding sent a letter to the federal agency committing to develop a permit
program by the end of 2002, and to conduct inspections of all CAFOs in
Michigan.  The DEQ has not yet begun its development of the water permit
program for CAFOs at this time.


Anne Woiwode, Staff Director
Sierra Club Mackinac Chapter
109 East Grand River Avenue
Lansing, Michigan 48906
517-484-2372; fax 517-484-3108

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