Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Law and Order in the Ozarks (Part CXIX): Environmental coalition sues federal agencies over hog farm

The Newton County Times reported in the August 14, 2013 issue that conservation and citizens groups have filed suit in federal court against the USDA Farm Service Agency and the U.S. Small Business Administration for what the "plaintiffs contend is the agencies' inadequate review and improper authorization of loan guarantee assistance" to an industrial hog farm in the Buffalo National River watershed.  The suit was filed on August 6 in U.S. district court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, Western Division.  I have written herehere, herehere and here of the C & H Hog Farm, which received more than $3.4 million in loan guarantee assistance from the federal government.

Plaintiffs are the Arkansas Canoe Club, Buffalo River Watershed Alliance, National Parks Conservation Association, and the Ozark Society, and they are represented by Earthjustice, Earthrise Law Center, and Hank Bates, a Little Rock attorney.  The plaintiffs' complaints were articulated in a June 6 letter to the defendants.  According to a press release by Earthjustice, a non-profit, public interest law firm, the suit was filed only after the defending agencies made clear they will provide no remedy.  An earlier post about the contemplated lawsuit is here.

The plaintiffs contend that the federal government agencies failed to provide public notice and to undertake the environmental review and consultations that relevant laws require.  The story includes quotes from various plaintiffs.  From Debbie Doss of the Arkansas Canoe Club:
Local residents will suffer the most from this absurdly located factory farm.  Residents of Mt. Judea will be exposed, downwind, to the smell and adverse health effects of methane and hydrogen sulfide.  A swine facility this large will put children at the Mount Judea School at high risk of health impacts including asthma and other respiratory conditions.
Emily Parks of the National Parks Conservation Association is quoted, too:
We're asking the court to set aside the loan guarantees and instruct the agencies to comply. 

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