Trade Associations Want Their Say in Case Opposing CEQ Animal Feed Lot Rule

A group of proposed intervenor-defendants moved late last week to become parties in a District of Columbia District Court case challenging a final rule propounded by the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) relaxing funding application requirements for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). The putative intervenors are nine national trade associations and a “leading” labor union whose members include builders, owners, operators, and agricultural, manufacturing, energy, and infrastructural industry employees.

The case was filed in September by six conservation and advocacy organizations. The plaintiffs alleged that the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) modification, which became effective on Sept. 14, would cause negative environmental consequences because it no longer requires CAFOs to file environmental reports in order to obtain government grants and loans. They claimed that the rule violates the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and asked the court to declare it unlawful and enjoin CEQ from implementing it.

In mid-October, the CEQ moved to dismiss the complaint, as reported by Law Street Media. The CEQ argued that the changes made to NEPA were thoughtful, intended to reduce needless paperwork, and designed to promote better decision-making. As to dismissal, the CEQ asserted that the plaintiffs lacked standing and the matter was not ripe for judicial resolution.

The proposed intervenors contend that they should be made parties to this suit because they “have a significant stake in CEQ’s decision to update its NEPA regulations.” Furthermore, they aver, should the plaintiffs prevail, the proposed intervenors’ members “would once again be subject to an uncertain and overly-burden-some regulatory scheme that invites obstructive litigation and needlessly delays important projects and operations.” They claim that they meet the criteria for intervention, and thus, their motion should be granted as a matter of right.

The movants also explain that their counsel has conferred with the plaintiffs’ counsel. The plaintiffs reportedly do not oppose the intervention, subject to certain conditions.

The intervenors are represented by McDermott Will & Emery LLP.