The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality has denied a new permit for the C&H Hog Farms‘ concentrated animal feeding operation near Mount Judea (Newton County). This is a big and somewhat surprising victory for critics who have viewed C&H’s large-scale pig farm and the pig waste it generates as an existential threat to the Buffalo National River.
This means the controversial pig farm must shut down unless the Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission grants a stay. C&H can appeal ADEQ’s decision to the APC&EC within 30* days. If C&H elects to do that, that review must happen “as expeditiously as possible” and a final decision must be handed down within 60 days unless all parties agree on an extension, according to APC&EC administrative rules. If the APC&EC denies the appeal, I believe that C&H could appeal the decision to circuit court or the Arkansas Court of Appeals.
C&H has been controversial since it won an ADEQ permit for its hog farm in 2012** in a process that critics complained was flawed and did not sufficiently take into account C&H’s proximity to Big Creek, a tributary of the Buffalo.
The denial is a long time coming. C&H applied for an updated liquid animal waste permit all the way back in April 2016. The ADEQ had decided to eliminate the permit C&H had been operating under; that permit expired in October 2016, and C&H has been operating on an indefinite extension of that permit. Opponents of the farm have complained that it’s been allowed to continue operating under an expired permit.
During the time the permit has been under ADEQ consideration, the ADEQ has received more than 1,000 public comments on the farm, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette has reported. In its denial of the permit, ADEQ provided 443 public comments and responses from the department.
In a statement of
information and data submitted by the applicant and comments received from the public. ADEQ denies issuance of the permit after determining that the record lacks necessary and critical information to support granting of the permit.”
I’ve left messages with half a dozen people involved in this fight, including C&H. More tomorrow or later tonight.
*A previous version of this post incorrectly said the window for an appeal was 10 days.
**A previous version also said that the initial permit was awarded in 2011.