Richard H. Mays, attorney for groups attempting to stop operation of the C and H Hog Farm in the Buffalo River watershed, reports that Newton County Circuit Judge John Putman issued an order yesterday that will allow the hog feeding operation to continue despite the state’s intent to deny a permit for disposal of liquid hog waste.

The situation is convoluted.

As Mays explains it, the Pollution Control and Ecology Commission has asked for public comments on the notice that the Department of Environmental Quality had decided to deny the permit, based on environmental risks, both from potential of pollutants reaching underground water and the effects of land-applied waste washing into tributaries of the Buffalo River.

C and H went to court asking for a stay of that order, which closed its departmental appeal. The judge said the circuit court now has jurisdiction to hear C and H’s appeal of that decision and issued a stay pending further litigation.

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Commented Mays:

The ramifications of this Order are not altogether clear, but it appears that ADEQ will not be able to process the comments that it is currently receiving in response to the Notice of Intent to Deny Permit and move forward with the denial, pending further Order from Judge Putman. It is possible that the Commission (acting through Attorney General. Rutledge) may appeal this Order, but we don’t know that yet.

Bottom line:

In the meantime, the Order allows the hog farm to continue operation.

Mays, who represents the Buffalo River Watershed Alliance, said he’ll be responding in due course.

Here’s the judge’s order.