The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) denied a CAFO a Clean Water Act (CWA) discharge permit for the first time in its history on June 30, explaining that the permit would have allowed for a lowering of water quality without the necessary demonstration of economic and social need that the CWA requires. According to an article published July 1 in the Kalamazoo Gazette:
DEQ officials, he said, had insufficient assurances that the proposed Longnecker Road CAFO would not contribute negatively to water quality or be responsible for lowering the values of neighboring properties. McCann said the state also had insufficient assurances that the operation would not damage local roads from heavy and excessive truck traffic, or harm surrounding open space and wildlife habitat.
According to a story on WoodTV.com, the well-organized efforts of local environmental advocates played a key role in the DEQ’s decision:
They provided evidence that jobs provided by the dairy would lower the township’s median wage level and drive away smaller farms that pay better, he said. Also, they argued persuasively that the facility would drive down property values, harm tourism and damage roads and the rural character with repeated shipments of manure, he said.
Kudos to the Michigan DEQ for having the guts to stand up to a powerful industry in the name of clean water. This serves a useful model for Wisconsin, where the Department of Natural Resources has never denied a CAFO permit.