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Livestock industry, led by the Colorado Livestock Association, prevails in a battle challenging the General CAFO Permit

Aurora, CO – This week, the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment accepted the Colorado Livestock Association’s appeal and reversed the initial decision by the Administrative Law Judge reaffirming the validity of the General Permit for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). This decision was the right result for livestock raising families in Colorado and preserves a permitting system that protects our state’s natural resources while maintaining economic viability for Colorado’s agriculture industry for generations to come. Colorado’s General Permitting system sets one of the highest standards across the nation in environmental stewardship and protection.

In June 2022, the Center for Biological Diversity, Food & Water Watch, and the University of Denver Sturm Law Clinic challenged the statewide general water pollution permit for CAFOs. Based on the petitioners’ assertions the administrative law judge issued an opinion stating the need for additional liners and groundwater testing wells. The basis for the petition was a court decision vacating EPA’s CAFO permit program in Idaho due to inadequate monitoring. 

As it stands, Colorado includes water monitoring and testing in the general permit. The environmental activist organizations wanted Colorado regulators to write individual permits for each operation, accounting for local conditions and requiring multiple new monitoring wells to make sure groundwater wasn’t tainted by runoff of manure or chemicals. Individual permits would have raised expenses for farmers and overlapped existing rules, and the effort was an extension of ongoing attacks to put large animal agriculture operations out of business.

The Colorado Livestock Association (CLA) Board of Directors engaged legal counsel, filed for party status, and committed a substantial sum from CLA’s Industry Preservation Fund to protect Colorado’s General CAFO permit. There was an attempt to settle the dispute with permit language that was even more protective of water sources, but the environmental activists did not accept the offer.

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