Idaho Feedlot Discharge Case Continues

Federal Judge Says Evidence Sufficient for JR Simplot Illegal Feedlot Discharges

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Environmental Editor
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A court case alleging J.R. Simplot is illegally discharging pollutants from a 150,000-head feedlot in Idaho will continue. (DTN file photo by Jim Patrico)

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) -- A lawsuit that tries to force one of the largest feedlots in the country to seek federal pollution discharge permits and to stop discharging manure and other waste into the Snake River will be allowed to continue after a federal judge in Idaho denied a motion by J.R. Simplot to dismiss the case.

The 150,000-head feedlot in Grand View, Idaho, has been operating without a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System, or NPDES, permit since 2012, according to a lawsuit filed by Snake River Waterkeeper in May 2023.

Simplot argued in its motion to dismiss filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho that Snake River Waterkeeper failed to identify exactly where illegal discharges occurred.

"In sum, the court finds SRW's notice adequately identified the Grand View facility as the location of the violation and in conjunction with the extensive information included with the notice," Judge David C. Nye said in the ruling, "including relevant point sources within the Grand View facility, sampling data, sampling locations, aerial images showing a lack of clean water equipment, identification of Simplot's parcel ownership, and flow map of tributaries running through the Grand View facility to the Snake River -- provided sufficient information for Simplot to identify its violation and bring the Grand View Facility into compliance."

Snake River Waterkeeper alleges in the lawsuit that the company has not properly managed manure at the feedlot, is unable to control snowmelt and rain, and overapplies manure to nearby fields.

According to the complaint, the feedlot was issued an NPDES permit that became effective on April 3, 1997. That permit was administratively extended on Jan. 7, 2002.

On Dec. 18, 2012, the EPA informed J.R. Simplot that because it had not timely submitted a new notice of intent and a nutrient management plan to receive coverage under the EPA Region 10's NPDES general permit, "any discharges from the Grand View feedlot would be unauthorized and would fail to comply with Section 301 of the Clean Water Act," the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit calls for the court to require J.R. Simplot to pay fines for each day it discharged pollution without a permit. According to the complaint, that adds up to five years and 60 days -- or as high as $121.8 million.

According to a news release from Snake River Waterkeeper, the feedlot houses up to at least 65,000 cattle that generate at least 47,450 tons of manure each year.

The group said that during a six-year period, it conducted water quality sampling in the Snake River at the Ted Trueblood Wildlife Management Area and other locations near the feedlot.

The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality classifies the stretch of the middle Snake River near the feedlot as impaired for failing to meet water quality standards.

Read more on DTN:

"J.R. Simplot Seeks CWA Case Dismissal,"…

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Todd Neeley

Todd Neeley
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