The latest in the fight over the 3,000-hog feeding operation near the Buffalo River watershed:
The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality yesterday issued notice of its final decision in denying a permit to C&H Hog Farm. No surprise here, making official the proposed denial issued by state officials in October. The decision is sure to be appealed. For now, C&H will likely continue to operate, pending appeal, thanks to a recent reprieve from Newton County Circuit Court.
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ADEQ denied the permit for disposal of liquid hog waste based upon its review of evidence of environmental risk — due to the underlying karst geology, which can allow waste to seep through and contaminate groundwater, as well as the impacts of land-applied waste washing into the nearby Big Creek, a tribute of the Buffalo River, and eventually into the Buffalo itself.
The Farm Bureau, which has tried to flex its considerable lobbying muscle to protect C&H, disputes this evidence. They’ll presumably continue to be an active player as the fight drags on.
C&H has generated controversy since it was first awarded an ADEQ permit in 2012. Several years back I went to Newton County for a deep-dive report on C&H and its impact on the community.
The original permit that C&H was awarded was discontinued altogether by the state, but C&H continued to operate for years on an expired permit. Then came the bureaucratic maze: C&H had already been denied a different type of permit in January before applying for this new type of permit, which was officially denied yesterday. The game here is to bog down the regulatory system in enough paperwork and processes to continue to operate despite no longer having an approved permit to do so.
Next up is the appeal process, which will likely drag on for months more as the shit seeps in to the water.