This morning, arguments for and against a permit to ‘land farm’ up to 6.7 million gallons of hog waste in the Buffalo River watershed were presented to Charles Moulton, an administrative judge with the Pollution Control & Ecology Commission.

The modified permit for EC Farms, a facility near Deer, was granted by the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality earlier this year. Three petitioners have appealed ADEQ’s decision, arguing that the environmental regulator failed to follow its own regulations and that the Buffalo is at risk of contamination. ADEQ insists that it was right to grant the permit.

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Moulton first heard arguments on the EC Farms permit at a hearing in November, but said he needed briefs from attorneys on both sides.

Although the larger issue is the environmental integrity of the river, the question at hand is a technical matter about whether ADEQ can grant a permit modification under the governing regulation, or whether EC Farms should have had to apply for a brand new permit. Today’s hearing included testimony from ADEQ staff as to the agency’s permitting process.

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The judge did not make a ruling today, but attorneys said they did not need to submit additional briefs after the hearing. A decision will likely come in the next few weeks.