The EPA unveiled its new permit to regulate water runoff and pollution from some of Idaho's biggest cattle and dairy feedlot operators. According to the Idaho Press-Tribune, the new general permit is years in the making and replaces a version that expired nine years ago. The permit includes input from livestock producers concerned about onerous agency regulation and environmentalists watchdogging the industry and its impact on the health of streams, lakes and groundwater.

Wording and requirements in the new permit take into account a handful of significant federal court rulings in recent years that have enhanced or limited government oversight of feedlots.

For example, only producers who actually discharge runoff into nearby surface waters need the new permit, a change from the previous version that required a permit for those proposing to do so.

The new permit requires the agency to consider impacts on endangered species and to share publicly a producer's nutrient management plans.

Making those plans a public record – and subject to public comment – is in stark contrast to Idaho's rules and may cause some producers to avoid the EPA permit. Last year, the Idaho Legislature passed a new law that makes private nutrient management plans submitted to state regulators.


Bob Naerebout, executive director of the Idaho Dairymen's Association, said he worked with the EPA in crafting the permit, but has not yet seen the finished product. Some of his concerns include making nutrient plans public and the added paperwork and documentation required to comply with the permit. PD

—From the
Idaho Press-Tribune (Click here to read the full article.)