Buffalo River 

Contempt hearing in hog farm case back on docket KTLO

21 Jan 2019 7:02 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


Contempt hearing in hog farm case back on docket

By: Karen Hopper

 January 21, 2019

A hearing canceled earlier this month in the C&H Hog Farms saga due to a paperwork processing snafu is back on the Newton County Circuit Court docket.

The purpose of the hearing is for officials from the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality to appear and show cause why they should not be held in contempt of court.

However, records in the case did not reflect summonses having been issued for the ADEQ officials, leading to the cancellation. The officials must be served with legal process in order for a hearing to proceed.

But on Friday, Newton County Circuit Judge John Putman issued a second order scheduling a new hearing for Feb. 27th at 1:00 at the courthouse in Jasper.

The show cause hearing is the latest development following the state's effort one year ago this month to stop C&H Hog Farms from operating in Newton County by denying it a permit for disposal of liquid hog waste.

With no public notice of the denial, C&H appealed the decision to the Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission. APC&E determines the environmental policy for the state, and ADEQ implements the policies.

The state's Pollution Control and Ecology Commission remanded the denial back to ADEQ, but C&H appealed that decision.

Also in January 2018, Judge Putman issued a stay of ADEQ, saying his court gained jurisdiction when C&H appealed.

Then in September, ADEQ issued a public notice of a draft decision that would deny a permit for the large hog farm in the Buffalo River watershed. The notice opened a public comment period.

In October, on the heels of two public hearings regarding the proposed draft decision to deny a Regulation 5 permit application for C&H, Judge Putman issued an order allowing the hog feeding operation to continue despite the state's intent to deny a permit for its operation.

The order issued two stays, one on ADEQ's permit denial to prompt C&H's closure and the other on Pollution Control and Ecology's decision to send the permit application back to ADEQ to be reopened under a new draft decision.

In November 2018, C&H Hog Farms responded to the state's official denial of a new permit by asking the Newton County Circuit Court to hold ADEQ in contempt of court. A hearing followed in December in Baxter County Circuit Court.

Three days later, Judge Putman denied APC&E's motion to dismiss the appeal, allowing C&H to move forward in the appeal of the denied permit. As part of Putman's ruling, his stays issued in October remained in place.

In Judge Putman's December order he noted C&H has filed a motion to show cause alleging ADEQ should be held in contempt of court. C&H alleges on Nov. 19th, with knowledge of Judge Putman's order Oct. 17th allowing operation to continue, ADEQ denied a permit for the hog farm citing pig waste might be contaminating the nearby Buffalo River.

ADEQ's actions in spite of Judge Putman's decision to allow C&H to continue operating led to the orders for the contempt hearings.

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