Saturday, September 17, 2011

Legal Advocates Win Clean Water Victory In Dairy Pollution Case

Hats off to Midwest Environmental Advocates, its clients and allies. Text below:

September 16, 2011

Citizens’ uphill legal battle against factory farm ends in significant improvements for water quality

Contact: Miriam Ostrov, Staff Attorney, (608) 251-5047 ext. 2

Pickett, WI- Neighbors of the Rosendale Dairy factory farm, an 8,400 cow operation, have settled a long fight against the farm and have achieved significant changes to the farm’s water pollution permit.

After years of denials by the Department of Natural Resources and the farm, a small group of citizens was finally able to show that the farm’s manure spreading plan needed to be improved. Despite this win, the factory farm and their attorneys threatened to sue the citizens for filing a frivolous action. The neighbors, with their own limited finances, had to make a tough decision given that they were faced with the seemingly limitless resources of a large corporation such as Rosendale Dairy. A legal battle over fees would not have furthered the goals of neighboring citizens, particularly when significant gains already had been made.

In 2009, after Rosendale Dairy opened, individual residents and a coalition called People Empowered Protect the Land (PEPL) contacted Midwest Environmental Advocates for legal assistance. They wanted to be sure that the farm would be held to all applicable legal standards designed to protect their health and to preserve their local water resources.

During the pending litigation, the DNR and Rosendale made several positive, substantive improvements to the permit, including limiting the spreading of manure on fields with direct conduits to water, that likely would not have been made absent the neighbors’ continued involvement and challenge to the deficiencies in Rosendale’s water pollution permit.

And, while many of the group’s issues and objections based on federal law were withdrawn from the DNR proceeding after a Wisconsin Supreme Court decision in May, the federal Environmental Protection Agency has since demanded that Wisconsin fix numerous failures of its water pollution permitting program to require compliance with the federal Clean Water Act.

“We applaud PEPL for bringing these issues to light. Their courage and conviction—and that of brave citizen advocates throughout the Great Lakes region—has been and will remain the driving force behind water quality protection in Wisconsin. We are inspired by people willing to stand up to powerful interests to protect the air we breathe and the water we drink,” said Dennis Grzezinski, MEA Senior Attorney.


Midwest Environmental Advocates is a public interest law firm with a national reputation as a pioneer in environmental justice. Since 1999, MEA has brought legal skills and expertise out of the court room and into the community to educate the public, organize community groups and promote sound legislation. We advocate for strong water policies and provide legal representation to groups working to reduce water pollution, conserve water supplies, and protect the public trust in water. Our work covers the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River Basin. Learn more at

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

MEA had to drop the case because they expert they had hired to testify at the contested case hearing was not a qualified expert. Too bad as they had a good case. Had they hired a licensed geologist they would have won more. I hope they learned something from this.