FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -- DECEMBER 22, 1997

 

FARMERS, SIERRA CLUB WITHDRAW "IN FRUSTRATION" FROM APPEALS ON STATE PERMITS FOR FACTORY HOG OPERATIONS.

BACKGROUND AND UPDATE

Citing frustrating delays, the Ozark Chapter of the Sierra Club and northern Missouri farmers/landowners Terry Spence and Scott Dye withdrew their appeals from the Missouri Clean Water Commission's administrative hearing process.

The Sierra Club's state director Ken Midkiff and Spence and Dye had challenged the awarding of permits to the nine facilities of Premium Standard Farms, stating that the conditions of the permits were not sufficient to protect the streams and groundwater near the facilities. Premium Standard Farms, Inc. is the nation's seventh largest hog producer and raises 1.7 million hogs in confined facilities on less than 35,000 acres in three counties in northern Missouri. Spills, fish kills, and stream pollution have plagued the operations.

The appellants had questioned the failure of the Commission to exercise its pollution abatement authority under several statutes, and had voiced concerns over the state's admitted mismanagement of mega-hog operations' waste application. In February, the Department of Natural Resources acknowledged that a miscalculation in waste lagoon capacity was allowing factory producers to land apply two to three times the allowable amount of hog waste to crop fields.

Meanwhile, environmental litigation against Premium Standard Farms continues to work its way through the courts. In July, Citizens Legal Environmental Action Network (CLEAN), a coalition of Missouri families, filed suit alleging violations of the federal Clean Air and Clean Water acts. Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon also is contemplating a suit against Premium Standard Farms, Inc., for many of the same reasons that Midkiff, Dye, and Spence raised in their administrative appeal.

QUOTES

Ken Midkiff: We felt that we were embedded in a quagmire of administrative procedures that were leading nowhere. And, at the same time, Attorney General Jay Nixon had filed a Notice of Intent to Sue under the Clean Water and Clean Air acts - that seemed to us to be much more likely to achieve positive results.

Scott Dye: Missouri's administrative hearing process is not a legitimate forum for citizens' concerns. It's where inept bureaucrats hide without accountability behind our laws, and industry lawyers delay compliance.

Terry Spence: For over three years of spills, fish kills, and water pollution, citizens have called and petitioned for a public hearing before the Clean Water Commission. The Governor's commissioners haven't even given us three hours of their time for such a hearing -- now they just appoint a hearing officer to do their job.

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For interviews or questions, contact: KEN MIDKIFF - 573-815-9250