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 new permit 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.