The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that pork producers can challenge the public release of their water pollution permit applications. The Courthouse News Dot Com website says those applications contain the estimated amount of waste produced by their operations. However, the applications also contain the name of the facility’s owner, the mailing address, a topographic map of the area around the operation, as well as the estimated amounts of manure, litter, and wastewater produced each year. The Clean Water Act states that these applications will be made public. However, the three-judge appeals panel said personal information is included in those applications, like names, home addresses, telephone numbers, GPS coordinates of those homes, and information that could lead to financial information being gleaned by someone else. The panel said while information about owners can usually be found in the public, farmers can object to having their information put into a central database, which EPA did three years ago and then gave that information to environmental groups through Freedom of Information Act requests. The panel said the EPA’s extensive data collection efforts and environmental groups’ multi-year attempts to access that data show that the EPA has collected data that would otherwise exits in greater obscurity.
From the National Association of Farm Broadcasting news service.
The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling.