Under the Dome

State backs off long-running egg farm dispute

After 12 years of fighting over pollution controls between a massive egg farm near a national wildlife refuge and state environmental regulators, the state has reversed course.

The battle began when the state renewed the facility’s federal Clean Water Act permit, but required it to investigate whether air emissions from its operations were settling into nearby streams. The company said the state couldn’t regulate air emissions under water pollution laws.

Protracted legal proceedings ensued and ended up in federal court.

This month, the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality rescinded its previous notice of violation and issued a non-discharge permit to Rose Acre Farms.

DEQ says it took the action reversing a previous administration’s legal position in order to “protect the agriculture industry from federal overreach.” Regulators say they acted on a federal judge’s ruling that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency overstepped its authority when it required a federal permit for rainwater runoff. The state already requires permits to protect water quality and manure management. The EPA did not contest the ruling.

The egg operation is near the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge.

Craig Jarvis: 919-829-4576, @CraigJ_NandO