Judge: State is too easy on hog farms

A Franklin Circuit Judge had nixed state permits for nine large-scale hog farms in Western Kentucky and sent them back to regulators for more work.

Judge Phillip Shepherd said in a ruling Friday that the state Energy and Environment Cabinet approved the hog operations under easier rules than those required for controlled animal feeding operations, did not follow its own regulations involving toxic air pollutants and pathogen controls, and failed to tie the permits to the Tennessee company that was calling the shots on the Kentucky farms.

Among other things, the judge said, the easier rules that the state followed minimized public input in the permit process.

"This right of public participation lies at the very heart of effective environmental regulation and public policy," Shepherd wrote.

Hank Graddy, a Midway attorney who represented the people challenging the permits, called Shepherd's ruling "a very significant decision."

"We hope it will help the cabinet take seriously its job to protect the environment in Western Kentucky," he said.

A spokesman for the cabinet said it was reviewing the ruling and had no immediate comment.