A new entry in the fight to control hog farm pollution | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, April 14, 2016

A new entry in the fight to control hog farm pollution

Posted By on Thu, Apr 14, 2016 at 3:13 PM

Richard H. Mays, a Heber Springs lawyer long active in environmental issues, tells me he's president of a new group, the Arkansas Environmental Defense Alliance, aimed at preserving and defending natural resources.

Action today: Comments filed with the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality against reissuance of a general permit allowing medium to large hog farms to be permitted without a rigorous individual permit process

In 2011, ADEQ issued a general permit that let hog farms obtain a permit by filing a notice of intent and waste management plan. The one-size-fits-all process didn't take into account location and other specific differences, the Alliance said in a news release. The general permit is open for renewal this year and the Alliance opposes it.

The point is the Buffalo River. The general permit was used to allow a hog farm on Big Creek, which feeds into the Buffalo National River. The Alliance says this was "a great mistake and lapse of regulatory judgment that holds significant potential for environmental harm to Big Creek and the Buffalo River."

The Alliance argues that because of the volume and toxicity of hog waste and the differences in geology underlying farms, permits should be issued on a facility-by-facility basis. 

Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who has expressed support for preservation of the Buffalo, picked the current head of ADEQ, Becky Keogh. Sounds like a good test of measuring whether talk will equal action. To date, the department seems to have continued more on a "voluntary compliance" approach to environmental regulation.

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