MADISON — Wisconsin environmental officials are
over-regulating large livestock operations, imposing
pollution requirements that are tougher than federal law
and arbitrarily changing runoff standards without going
through the rule-making process, a trade association
says in a lawsuit.
Dairy Business Association filed the lawsuit in Brown
County on July 31. It alleges the Wisconsin Department
of Natural Resources has changed requirements for
concentrated animal feeding operations to treat runoff.
The department last year stopped allowing farmers to
move runoff through patches of vegetation to filter
pollution without going through the administrative
rule-making process, the lawsuit said.
department also has assumed oversight of calf hutches
without going through the rule-making process, the
What’s more, the agency is illegally requiring all the
feeding operations to obtain a pollution discharge
permit regardless of whether they actually discharge any
pollution into state waters. That requirement violates
state statutes that say the department’s pollution rules
can’t be tougher than federal law, which requires a
permit only for actual pollution discharge, says the
suit. The plaintiffs seek judicial orders prohibiting
the department from enforcing the new runoff guidance as
well as declaring the regulation of calf hutches invalid
and the rule requiring blanket discharge permits
unenforceable. No court activity has been scheduled yet,
according to online records.
department spokesman declined comment, saying the agency
doesn’t talk about pending litigation.
‘‘We’re not looking for a free pass on regulations,’’
the dairy group’s president, Mike North, said in a news
release announcing the lawsuit. ‘‘We’re asking DNR to
follow the rules.’’