Buffalo River 


  • 13 Mar 2018 3:51 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Republic

    Arkansas liquid waste rule change troubles environmentalists


    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Environmentalists fear a proposed Arkansas law that would prohibit new complaints against animal waste permits previously authorized by the state will gut their their effort to fight a farm that is authorized to house 6,500 pigs near the nation’s first scenic river.

    As the Arkansas Legislature opened a special session Tuesday, Rep. Jeff Wardlaw told the House Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee his bill only addresses concerns among banks and farmers that perpetual challenges to animal waste permits could make some operations bad investments.

    Michael Grappe, the director of special projects for the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, said that when a farm seeks modifications to a permit, the entire process shouldn’t reopen.

    “The bill before you provides some guarantees” against challenges from environmentalists and other third parties, Grappe told the panel. “You cannot sit there and dream up new things to challenge a permit.”

    Throughout an hour-long hearing, Wardlaw and the panel’s chairman said the bill had nothing to do with the C&H Hog Farm, which operates near a tributary of the Buffalo National River.

    Some were skeptical.

    “I will not address the 800-pound hog in the room,” Gordon Watkins, the president of the Buffalo River Watershed Alliance, said as he opened his testimony against the bill. His fear, he said, was that the bill could cut off his group’s current effort to close the farm over fears of manure runoff.

    “If there is some effort to protect C&H, we will come back to hold them accountable,” he said after the bill passed unanimously on a voice vote.

    Congress declared the Buffalo the nation’s first scenic river in 1972. C&H in 2012 won approval for a federal waste permit no longer administered by the state, and the company’s recent bid to replace it with one issued by the state failed in January when regulators said the farm had not studied groundwater flow or developed an emergency plan.

    One of the farm’s owners, Jason Henson, told KYTV in Springfield, Mo., in January: “For them to issue you a permit, and then to deny you a permit, to us seems very unfair and unjust.”

    C&H continues to operate as it appeals the rejection of its new permit.

    Under Wardlaw’s bill, if a permit-holder seeks only to modify a permit, the entire case isn’t reopened.

    “We’re not taking away any public comment period on the front end,” Wardlaw told the panel.

    Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who put the issue on the legislators’ agenda when he announced the special session Monday, said he believed the bill had appropriate limits.

    “C&H Farm had a federal permit. What happened was a lot of the farmers in the community got concerned that, ‘Well, if C&H Hog Farm is going to be denied continuation of their permit, then somehow it’s going to impact my right to farm,'” Hutchinson said Tuesday. “This legislation … reduces their fear that somehow they’re not going to be able to continue in operation.”

    Associated Press writer Andrew DeMillo contributed to this report.

  • 10 Mar 2018 7:22 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    Personalizing our laws

    By Mike Masterson

    Posted: March 10, 2018 at 2:44 a.m.

    After reading that Farm Bureau-pushed draft bill in search of legislative supporters that would benefit C&H Hog Farms, I’ve been thinking. And yes, that is in fact responsible for the odor of burning rubber you’ve been smelling the last day or so.

    Readers may recall how word had it the Farm Bureau was busy enticing lawmakers to secure two-thirds of the House and Senate who’d support a draft bill to force the matter into a special session vote.

    The draft I read was clearly protective and beneficial to the controversial and misplaced factory in the Buffalo River watershed. The proposed law would invalidate the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality’s recent denial of an individual permit to the factory. That action was based largely on insufficient subsurface water flow studies missing from their permit application.

    Still, the very concept behind such a draft was enough to make me wonder why each of us can’t have our very own state law that protects our enterprises, even when state regulatory agencies issue unfavorable rulings against us, too.

    Our state’s Department of Environmental Quality (cough) denied C&H a revised individual permit after granting a one-size-fits-all general permit in 2012. The agency has allowed the factory to continue operating on that permit while it appeals the denial.

    The proposed unnamed draft bill I read was signed by District 4 Rep. DeAnn Vaught, a farmer from Horatio. That version might (or might not) have made it intact to this weekend. But this attempt to change state law, supported with an intensive full-court press by the Arkansas Farm Bureau, basically said that since this facility initially received a general permit, that permit alone would be sufficient to operate forever.

    In other words, the factory wouldn’t even need no stinkin’ individual permit! Don’t worry. Be happy!

    A nifty lawmaking deal for one family business supported and supplied by a Brazilian meat-packer, which in the past year has found itself under criminal investigation, accused of corruption and bribing some of that country’s top public officials.

    The draft bill I saw said the proposed law would apply to all factory farming, but it obviously benefits C&H itself immediately. That fact to me and other adult Arkansans exercising common sense says the very reason for even attempting to create a new law overriding the permit denial is a purely political remedy for a single factory’s plight.

    To pretend otherwise would be the very definition of disingenuous.

    So, back to my idea. How nice would it be to each have our very own law that protects against bothersome state rules and regulations, especially if we’ve had conflicts with a state agency?

    Making us all these new laws won’t be an easy or inexpensive undertaking since I see how things work. First we’ll need a lobbying group with enough money and clout to threaten legislators who don’t comply with losing votes. There may be enough representatives and senators intimidated by the Farm Bureau, for instance, to vote that its logo must be attached to the Great Seal of Arkansas.

    Among other enticements, our special-interest group will have to arrange for persuasive political contributions and fine dining at preferred restaurants (along with refreshments to ease the pains from agonizing hours of making all those individual laws).

    Such a lobbying group must exist somewhere. We need one that can actually convince two-thirds of the full-grown representatives and senators in our Legislature to defend each of us from, well, the state itself. I know, sounds crazy.

    I’m probably fantasizing here. And it’s probably far-fetched to believe we could even afford a “Person Bureau” to champion our own cause. Reality says none of us is a hog factory with experienced Farm Bureau and Pork Producers lobbyists already in place and rootin’ to go.

    Perhaps we should open a statewide “Go Fund Us Account” on Facebook to help cover my idea. What do you think, valued readers? What’s good for protecting 6,500 swine in the Buffalo National River watershed from state agency oversight must be good for you and me, right? In the interest of truth, justice and the American way, we all have businesses and lives that need protecting.

    And just thinking wishfully, this revolutionary concept in personalizing our laws to assist individuals and their businesses might even initiate a revolutionary new form of lawmaking nationwide.

    Under new personalized protection laws, folks could simply invalidate pesky state regulations and requirements by simply showing that, because they once abided by them under a different set of standards, they are free from further constraints and harassment. What a great country we share with the right politicos on our side.

    Like I said up top, this is only a wishful thought, amounting to little more than the aroma of a smoldering tire dump. The icy splash of harsh reality assures me, unlike a hog factory misplaced in the Buffalo National River watershed, and although we vote and supply the money for our legislators to spend, you and I will never have our very own special-interest groups.

    About the pigs

    Speaking of swine, what do you call a band of hog thieves? Hamburglars! What’s the favorite color of 6,500 swine in a hog factory? Ma-hog-any. What do you call pigs engaged in a tug of war? Pulled pork! What did esteemed geoscience professor and hydrologist John Van Brahana and I do when we spoke about the hog factory in Fayetteville to the Osher Lifetime Learning Institute workshop for the third consecutive year? We boared ’em senseless and hammed it up.

    Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist. Email him at mmasterson@arkansasonline.com.

  • 07 Mar 2018 4:38 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Arkansas Times

    Another plea for protecting the Buffalo River

    Posted By  on Wed, Mar 7, 2018 at 12:25 PM

    A coalition of environmental and grassroots groups joined in a letter to legislators today to resist a proposal circulating to override a state decision not to grant a newpermit for a factory hog feeding operation in the Buffalo River watershed.

    The state Department of Environmental Quality decision against a new permit for C and H Hog Farm, which fattens Brazilian-owned hogs for slaughter to sell pork in China, while leaving hog waste in Arkansas, is on appeal. But meanwhile, legislation is circulating — backed by the Arkansas Farm Bureau — to override that decision.

    The letter today said the proposal seems tailored to help C and H, but has broad and long-running consequences. It notes, too, that the legislation — expected to be introduced at a special legislative session to follow the budget session — truncates an established administrative process.

    Here's the full letter.

    One key point on the legislation:

    It creates a loophole to allow a facility to obtain a permit under a less restrictive general permit that must be renewed and then switch to a permanent individual permit that requires higher standards for approval without meeting those required standards. This is not protective of our natural resources and creates an ineffective and convoluted permitting regime. It places all of our waters at risk along with the businesses and families who rely on them. Specifically, this legislation threatens the crown jewel of Arkansas’s tourism industry and livelihoods of all the families who have invested their savings and lives into businesses in the Buffalo River Watershed.
    The hog farm operators say they are operating according to rules and creating no environmental damage. The other side says the waste is creating runoff damaging to local waters, particularly during runoff from heavy rains.

    PS: Here's video of the news conference on the statement today.

  • 07 Mar 2018 4:33 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Listen to the broadcast here: KUAR Radio

    Proposed Legislation Could Serve As Boon For Controversial Hog Farm, Environmentalists Say


    A handful of Arkansas environmental advocacy groups are seeking to block legislation from being considered that could allow a controversial hog farm to keep operating.

    Newton County-based C&H Hog Farms has come under scrutiny in recent years due to concerns over waste runoff into the Buffalo National River Watershed. The farm sits on Big Creek, a major tributary of the Buffalo.

    Rep. DeAnn Vaught (R-Horatio) has drafted a proposed bill that would clarify procedures for transferring a general permit to an individual permit by the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality. Gordon Watkins, president of the Buffalo River Watershed Alliance, says this altering of Arkansas code could allow C&H to continue operating.

    “It just so happens that the only facility that qualifies as having a general permit trying to transfer to an individual permit is C&H Hog Farms,” Watkins told reporters at a press conference Wednesday afternoon. “Although C&H is not mentioned specifically in here, it’s obvious to us that that’s who it’s intended to protect.”

    Watkins argues his criticism of Rep. Vaught’s bill is not borne out of an anti-agriculture stance; rather, the environmental impact of the farm is greater than its economic impact in the state, as it is under contract to São Paulo-based JBS S.A., the largest meat processing company in the world.

    “While supporters claim it’s intended to protect farmers across Arkansas, it really is just a thinly veiled attempt to craft legislation to benefit a single, private swine operation, namely C&H Hog Farms, who are being directed by a giant Brazilian meatpacker,” Watkins said.

    Watkins’s group, as well as the Ozark Society and the Arkansas chapter of the Sierra Club, is calling on Gov. Asa Hutchinson not to include Rep. Vaught’s bill in the upcoming special session of the Arkansas General Assembly. The groups also hand-delivered a petition with more than 2,000 signatures to the governor’s office as well as both houses of the state legislature.

    The ADEQ rejected the farm’s bid for an operating permit in January, saying the application lacked critical testing information. Critics of the farm say its permit should have been rejected out of concern for the environment.

    “We are for responsible agriculture, and we don’t believe that this is an example of responsible agriculture; putting a gigantic hog farm in the middle of the Buffalo River Watershed,” Arkansas Sierra Club Director Glen Hooks said.

    Studies from the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture have shown an increase of nitrate levels in Big Creek downstream from the farm compared with upstream levels. Gov. Hutchinson has yet to release a list of bills up for consideration during the special session.

    Rep. Vaught did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

  • 07 Mar 2018 8:33 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Capitol Press

    USDA farm loans vulnerable to environmental lawsuits

    Environmental attorneys say that USDA loans to “factory farms” are a potential target for lawsuits.

    Mateusz Perkowski

    Capital Press

    Lawsuits opposing the construction of “factory farms,” according to environmental 

    Follow link above to read full story.

  • 06 Mar 2018 4:55 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Arkansas Times

    Sign up to protect the Buffalo River

    Posted By Max Brantley on Tue, Mar 6, 2018 at 6:51 AM

      The Arkansas Citizens First Congress has an on-line petition drive fast gaining momentum to oppose industry legislative efforts to protect a factory hog feeding operation in the watershed of the Buffalo River.

      As we've written previously, the Arkansas Farm Bureau is a driving force behind legislation likely to be introduced at a coming legislative session to override the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality's decision not to extend a new permit for the C and H Hog Farm in Newton County, which fattens hogs owned by a Brazilian conglomerate to produce pork for export to China. Arkansas gets to keep millions of gallons of pig feces and urine, held in retaining ponds and spread on fields, where it has potential to migrate into the scenic Buffalo. There's a divergence of opinion on the impact of the farm on pollution.

      The petition notes that C and H is appealing the permit denial through an established process.

      Support due process. C&H applied for a new permit to operate that was denied by ADEQ. C&H is appealing the denial of the permit through the established state administrative process. Clean surface and ground water can best be protected by using sound science for evidence with public debate by all parties. The appropriate vehicle at this time is the appeal process, scheduled to be heard in August before the Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission.  

    • 05 Mar 2018 5:02 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

      Democrat Gazette

      U.S. water, air laws allow for suits; uncertainty prevails after justices’ state-immunity ruling

      The federal Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act require states to allow people to take them to court over permitting decisions related to those acts, but attorneys and officials in Arkansas are divided over what that means for the state in light of a recent Arkansas Supreme Court decision.

      The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality administers Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act programs with the permission of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which must determine whether the state is doing all it's required to do to run them.

      In January, the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled in Board of Trustees of the University of Arkansas v. Matthew Andrews that residents have no right to sue the state government, even when the Legislature has allowed it, citing Article 5, Section 20, of the Arkansas Constitution of 1874. It states, "The State of Arkansas shall never be made defendant in any of her courts."

      Since the decision, attorneys and lawmakers have questioned the extent of the ruling's impact and whether they could appeal state agency decisions to Circuit Court. Some have floated the idea of a constitutional amendment to return authority to the Legislature to make exceptions to sovereign immunity, but no amendment has been approved yet for signature-gathering.

      The Clean Water Act says that all states wishing to administer Clean Water Act programs "shall provide an opportunity for judicial review in State Court of the final approval or denial of permits by the State that is sufficient to provide for, encourage, and assist public participation in the permitting process" (40 CFR 123.30).

      "A State will meet this standard if State law allows an opportunity for judicial review that is the same as that available to obtain judicial review in federal court of a federally-issued NPDES permit ... A State will not meet this standard if it narrowly restricts the class of persons who may challenge the approval or denial of permits," the law states.

      The Clean Water Act was amended to include this language in 1996, the year the Arkansas Supreme Court began allowing the Arkansas Legislature to pass laws exempting the state from sovereign immunity in certain cases. In 1997, the Arkansas Legislature passed Act 896, which altered language of the statute allowing people to appeal decisions of the Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission to state specifically that they could be appealed to circuit court.

      The Clean Air Act, in 42 U.S. Code § 7661a, approved in 1990, outlines expectations for states to implement permitting programs under the Clean Air Act, noting that they must include "an opportunity for judicial review in State court of the final permit action by the applicant, any person who participated in the public comment process, and any other person who could obtain judicial review of that action under applicable law."

      State and federal officials' responses were scant regarding questions from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette about whether appeals to state courts remained possible or whether the Department of Environmental Quality would be able to continue administering Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act programs.

      Prominent environmental attorneys in the state voiced concern about whether they would be able to appeal department decisions to state courts and how long the department would be able to continue administering the federal programs.

      The EPA told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette it doesn't typically comment on court cases, but it has threatened previously to increase its oversight of or revoke state programs of states for going against federal air and water laws.

      In 2013, the EPA partially federalized certain water permits after the Arkansas Legislature passed Act 954. The act altered how stream flows were calculated, allowing municipalities and industries with water-discharge permits to release more minerals into the waters. The act also removed the default assumption that all waters in the state were potential drinking water sources, unless a scientific study had determined otherwise.

      The EPA had told lawmakers they believed the act contradicted the Clean Water Act and decided to review minor discharge permits issued by the state, instead of only major ones. Lawmakers rescinded Act 954 in a special session later that year.

      Officials at the Department of Environmental Quality said they do not anticipate the Arkansas Supreme Court's decision as "necessarily impacting" the department's administration of the programs.

      Department officials noted that Arkansas Code Ann. 8-4-223 allows appeals of Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission decisions to state court. The commission is the department's appellate and rule-making body. But the department also noted that the impact of the court's decision on that statute and related provisions "has not been explicitly addressed in any adjudicatory proceeding or court decision."

      Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's office responded to questions from the newspaper by stating that Rutledge believes appeals can still be made to courts.

      "The Attorney General is confident the Arkansas Supreme Court would agree," Rutledge's office said in its two-sentence response.

      Environmental attorneys in Arkansas expressed greater skepticism that they would be able to make appeals to state courts.

      "The answer is, I don't know what the answer is," said Richard Mays, an attorney with Williams and Anderson law firm in Little Rock.

      To get some clarity on the reach of the decision, voters could pass a constitutional amendment or the Supreme Court could expound on its ruling, Mays said.

      "Until then, it's going to pretty well stop or block any appeals of administrative decisions to the circuit courts and the other appellate courts," he said.

      Allan Gates, an attorney at Mitchell Williams law firm in Little Rock, said he wasn't sure the Department of Environmental Quality could waive a sovereign immunity defense in a state court case to maintain its ability to administer Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act programs, if that ability were in jeopardy.

      "It's not clear if a court would feel comfortable allowing the attorney general to waive sovereign immunity when it wouldn't allow the Legislature to do so," he said.

      Mays has worked on cases related to C&H Hog Farms on behalf of the Buffalo River Watershed Alliance. He said the Supreme Court ruling could prevent either side from appealing the Pollution Control and Ecology Commission's final permitting decision on the hog farm to a state court. But any impact of the ruling on the Clean Water Act would not trickle down into oversight of the hog farm or its permit application, because the farmers applied for a state program permit.

      C&H is currently operating under an expired federal program permit from the state.

      "If you can't file a suit in circuit court challenging an agency's decision," Mays said. "That simply makes the decision of the agency the final authority, and that's pretty unsatisfactory."

      Information for this article was contributed by John Moritz of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

      Metro on 03/05/2018

    • 04 Mar 2018 8:38 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

      Preserving the factory

      A special bill

      By Mike Masterson

      Posted: March 4, 2018 at 1:49 a.m.


      A draft bill likely to be filed as early as Monday and heard in special session, if two-thirds of our legislators support it, would in effect neuter the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality and establish a law preserving C&H Hog Farms in the Buffalo National River watershed.

      The proposal, being actively pushed by the Farm Bureau, also declares an emergency because owners of the swine factory at Mount Judea were confused and their livelihood jeopardized by the requirements for transferring their existing general permit to an individual permit, which the state agency denied last month.

      The somewhat confusing (to me) draft, if accepted for action this week, then passed in special session and signed by the governor, in my view fails to meaningfully distinguish between the factory's general permit granted in 2012 and the denied individual no-discharge permit. This piece of phenomenally bad legislation basically would invalidate the denial and allow the swine factory to transfer from one permit to another with no questions asked.

      The primary difference is general permits today are pretty much one size fits all with few, if any, meaningful site-specific considerations, while individual permits are specifically tailored to a site like C&H.

      In C&H's case, no staff geologist investigated water flow or subsurface characteristics in the karst-laden Buffalo watershed or around the factory before the general permit was issued. In switching to an individual permit, as C&H had requested, relevant environmental risks to the national river were considered for the first time.

      In essence, this draft bill would not only eliminate that safeguard, but there would be no Department of Environmental Quality review allowed, no public comment period, and no possibility for appeal. In other words, once a facility has been sited even under a broad general permit, it basically would need nothing further.

      The proposal specifically says any action taken by a director that has the effect of terminating a permittee's authority to operate under a general permit before an individual permit is issued would be void.

      Yet another deeply concerning section appears to create a statute of limitations for challenging a permit. If I understand correctly, C&H could no longer be legally challenged on anything prior to 2013, such as the 2012 permit issuance.

      Section 3 is the emergency clause that covers facilities in the process of trying to transfer from one permit type to another. These are changes many believe will dramatically affect all future permitting. The driving force behind the proposal, because of its wording, timing and aggressive lobbying efforts, I believe clearly constitutes a piece of special legislation designed specifically to benefit a single enterprise.

      The Buffalo River Watershed Alliance responded: "This is clearly a major change to the Arkansas legal code to accommodate a single ill-sited operation. It has the fingerprints of special interests' influence all over it. There is simply no other reason to circumvent standard due process ... ."

      A portion of the draft also says when a facility's owners or operators obtain rights to operate under a general permit or an individual permit, all decisions are final and not subject to review in subsequent administrative or judicial actions. Wow! Sounds like the obvious neutering of Environmental Quality's public oversight responsibilities; all this to benefit one misplaced swine factory.

      Part of special interests' spiel to sell this bad idea to farmers and legislators is a scare tactic that says the denial of C&H's individual permit in its specific environmentally sensitive location would open the door to similar actions against factory farms elsewhere. That slippery slope argument is nonsense.

      One account in the Arkansas Times said Gov. Asa Hutchinson "has reportedly acquiesced to the hog farm decision override in a special session if the backers can demonstrate two-thirds support, the vote needed to broaden the call of a special session."

      Meanwhile, a news story the other day reported the Joint Budget Committee advanced a proposal that would increase spending authority for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture under auspices of its Big Creek Research and Extension Team to continue performing water-quality studies in the Buffalo watershed until 2022, with funding increased from $100,000 to $200,000.

      The studies will be continued on behalf of the Department of Environmental Quality. The Agriculture Division will report the results and progress of these studies to legislative committees. How reassuring is that?

      It's a sad deal for Arkansas when the state's top attraction that can't lobby and offer political contributions or steak dinners and drinks faces such a potential threat from our very own legislators, of all people.

      So personally contact your House and Senate legislators (tinyurl.com/ARKledge), the governor at (501) 682-2345, and alison.williams@governor.arkansas.gov by Monday, since this move (surprise!) has happened quickly and quietly. Your contact yet again has become crucial to protect the country's first national river for everyone. If you care, ask them not to sign onto such bad legislation.


      Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist. Email him at mmasterson@arkansasonline.com.

      Editorial on 03/04/2018

    • 03 Mar 2018 12:03 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
      Only two days to contact legislators.

      Special interests are threatening to undermine ADEQ’s ability to protect clean water during the upcoming legislative special session. Call the Governor and your State Legislators today—let them know that you strongly favor protecting the Buffalo River and you want them to stand up against all efforts that would harm her. 

      Legislation is now being drafted which threatens to undermine protection of the Buffalo. This legislation will be considered during the upcoming Special Session but co-sponsors may be finalized by next Monday, March 5, after which it will be difficult to defeat.  Ask your elected representatives to NOT co-sponsor any such legislation but to:

      • Support responsible agriculture.  Agriculture is a vital part of our economy and way of life as Arkansans. The Buffalo River Watershed has a strong history of family farming.However, C&H Hog Farm contracts with JBS, a Brazilian-based multinational conglomerate with a well-documented record of corruption and environmental degradation around the world.  As the crown jewel of the Natural State and an economic engine for tourism, the unique geology of the Buffalo National River Watershed  is not an appropriate location for industrial farming facilities.    
      • Support adequate resources for ADEQ. The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality needs to have adequate funding and resources to conduct proper permitting review and transparency.  Restricting resources necessary to protect our air and water will harm all Arkansans.  
      • Support due process. C&H applied for a new permit to operate that was denied by ADEQ. C&H is appealing the denial of the permit through the established administrative process. Permitting decisions should be made by experts at the agency, and should not be interfered with midstream by legislators while the process is playing out. 

      Call your state Senator and Representative and Governor Hutchinson today. Use this link to find contact information for your district representatives http://gis.arkansas.gov/viewer.php Zoom in on your location then click on the Senator or Repesentative shown for contact information. Call Governor Hutchinson at 501-682-2345 or email alison.williams@governor.arkansas.gov 

    • 02 Mar 2018 9:15 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

      KOLR 10 TV News, Springfield, MO

      A proposed bill in Arkansas is raising questions.

      Opponents of C& H Hog Farm in Newton County, believe the bill is designed to reverse a decision by the ADEQ, to deny the farm's permit. There are concerns the operation is causing hog waste to contaminate the nearby Buffalo River.

      It's the emergency clause in the proposed bill that concerns Gordon Watkins, President of "The Buffalo River Watershed Alliance." 

      "It refers to facilities permitted by the Department of Environmental Quality. having their authority to continue operations jeopardized by confusion over the requirements for transferring authority to operate from a general permit to an individual permit. Well, C & H is the only permitted facility in the state of Arkansas that has a general permit and is trying to transfer to an individual permit."

      Arkansas legislator Dan Douglas says, the proposed bill is to ease the fears of other farmers. 

      "This bill is just a means of reassuring the lenders and the producers that if they have been issued a permit and are good players and currently have no enforcement actions against them .. and they need to change permits, or modify their permits, they will be allowed to do so, and will be grandfathered in."

      Douglas denies that the proposed bill is about C & H.

      "What the bill does not do, it does not have a retroactive time period to allow anyone that currently has.. that's in an enforcement action or denial, to be grandfathered in. So therefore it does not apply to the C & H Hog Farm."

      Watkins is not quite convinced that's true.

      "This emergency clause would end up in effect grant C & H a permit, in spite of the fact that there's an ongoing appeal." 

      C & H has appealed the case. They're expected back in court this August.

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