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Buffalo River Watershed Alliance v. Department of Agriculture

ELR Citation: 44 ELR 20255
Nos. 4:13-cv-450, (E.D. Ark., 12/02/2014) (Marshall Jr., J.)

A district court held that the Farm Service Agency and the Small Business Administration violated NEPA and the ESA when they guaranteed loans to a hog farm without adequately assessing the farm's environmental impact. The farm, which houses 6,500 swine, is located near a tributary of the Buffalo National River. Yet neither agency took the requisite hard look at the farm's environmental impact under NEPA. The Farm Service Agency arbitrarily determined that the farm would have no significant impact on the environment, as the EA that supported the agency's FONSI was cursory and flawed. Meanwhile, the Small Business Administration didn't assess the farm's environmental impact at all. Likewise, the agencies violated the ESA. It is undisputed that the Gray Bat, an endangered species, lives in caves near the farm. The Small Business Administration, however, made no attempt to comply with the Act. And while the Farm Service Agency began consulting informally with FWS, it then abandoned any collaboration. The court therefore ordered the agencies to comply with both Acts within one year.