North Carolina is seeking to regulate emissions from a big egg-producing facility, using the Clean Water Act. Today the department of Environment and Natural Resources will be in Hyde County Superior Court, where Rose Acre Farms will argue the state can't use water regulations to control air emissions. At issue are pollutants being released through ventilation fans in Rose Acre's hen houses, which contain more than 3 million chickens. Eve Gartner is a staff attorney with Earthjustice, which is representing environmental groups backing the state.
Eve Gartner: "The facility is within less than 2 miles of numerous very sensitive waterways. So all of this air pollution gets deposited into the water bodies. And that's why even though in some sense you might think of it as air pollution it really is water pollution."
Gartner says a study shows Rose Acre is releasing massive amounts of pollution, but the company says the study is flawed. Rose Acre also argues the regulation would mean any facility that emits anything into the air would need a Clean Water Act permit. The court could approve the regulation or block it...or it could decide that a separate hearing must determine whether there is in fact pollution. Rose Acre says it's brought jobs and economic development to the area and been a good steward of the land and environment...and says the state is unfairly singling out its facility.