Enviro-Activists’ Fowl Litigation Lays an Egg

Robert F Kennedy JrIt’s been a dreary December for the lawsuit-happy radicals at Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s Waterkeeper Alliance. But hardworking family farmers will be carrying some extra holiday cheer.

The Waterkeeper Alliance has a knack for filing questionable lawsuits, but one now-dismissed suit in Maryland might be its worst yet. The Waterkeeper Alliance alleged that the Hudson family, fourth-generation poultry farmers, violated environmental law by allowing improper waste runoff into the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The problem was that the facts were not on their side, since the suspected pile of manure wasn’t, in fact, manure.

Already chided by a judge for having a weak case, the Waterkeeper Alliance pressed on to trial. Not surprisingly, it failed miserably. According to the Baltimore Sun:

Though the ditches draining the 300-acre farm were contaminated at the time with high levels of bacteria and nutrients typically found in animal waste, [U.S. District Court Judge William M.] Nickerson wrote that the Waterkeeper group had only shown it was “possible” some of the pollution had come from the Hudsons’ two chicken houses holding 80,000 birds.

The group argued that waste was blown out of the chicken houses by large ventilation fans and tracked out by equipment and boots, then washed off the farm whenever it rained. […]

Given the ton and a half of waste estimated to be generated daily by the cows, Nickerson faulted the Waterkeeper group and its legal team for not sampling the vent fans and the ground around the chicken houses for traces of manure.

Meanwhile, the Alliance took a hit in West Virginia as well. It tried to butt into an EPA suit there to go after another family farmer for allegedly violating the Clean Water Act. The theory, again, was that chicken litter was running off into a stream when it rained. But thanks to a favorable Supreme Court ruling for property owners this past spring, the farmers filed suit against the EPA, causing it to back down. It’s not what the Alliance hoped for. Just two weeks ago, Waterkeeper Alliance Executive Director Marc Yaggi said that if the EPA did not win this suit, it would “roll back core Clean Water Act protections that safeguard human health and the environment.”

What’s in RFK Jr.’s stocking this year? Hyperbole and disappointment—which itself is a gift to family farmers across the country.

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