Legislative Matters: Industry Challenge of Michigan NPDES Permit
Several cows
Many of you may have seen the articles in the Michigan Farm News regarding the collaborative industry efforts that have been underway for months evaluating the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) revised National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) regulatory permits, which has now resulted in an administrative action to challenge the requirements of the permit process. 

Generally, the revised NPDES permits are being challenged for weak or absent connections to science-based environmental benefits, while also ignoring basic agronomic management principles. GreenStone has been involved in the Michigan Farm Bureau-organized Steering Committee and has worked closely with the named organizations in the filing.


The action taken to be engaged and to challenge the permit process was thoroughly examined and discussed by your GreenStone board of directors. While there was hope an administrative challenge would not be necessary, the agricultural industry along with a majority of the registered confined animal feeding operations (CAFO) felt there was no other option at this time. Steps are being taken to connect with the rest of Michigan’s CAFOs to include their voice with the initial large number of named CAFOs in the action. Often is it hard to get every sector of agriculture to agree on difficult subjects, but while there are minor nuances in the complexities the permitting process presents, challenging EGLE is a widely agreed essential next step.  


As GreenStone supports the industry through the Steering Committee analysis, it is also supporting the related legal work financially. Together with Michigan Farm Bureau’s organization and financial leadership, additional financial support is coming from the named CAFOs in the suit, as well as the commodity organizations identified. GreenStone understands the importance of being a team player in the agricultural industry endeavors.  Supporting these important actions with financial contributions was essential to the teamwork.  


Aside from the financial support and active engagement with the committee, GreenStone determined it was not necessary or relevant to be included as a named plaintiff in the administrative action at this time. Agronomics management is not core to our service proposition, so being named to challenge the permit process was not essential or helpful. GreenStone has been supportive, at the table from the beginning, and contributed significantly, which has all been appreciated by the industry.

Further steps may be necessary to pursue additional remedies in this matter. This may include a complaint filed in the Michigan Court of Claims before the mailing of this publication. Filing that complaint is dependent on how the State of Michigan responds to the administrative action.   

Additionally, preparing to educate legislators and government regulators on the economic damage the current NPDES requirements will have on the industry will be important. GreenStone has the expertise and experience from its members to aid in that effort. The effect of these permitting rules has broad economic impact on all of agriculture and engaging as a team to challenge the fairness together is important to who we are as a cooperative.


It is important that you know that we are engaged and supportive. 

To view the article in the online 2020 Summer Partners Magazine, click here



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