diary-farmThe slow economy has impacted virtually every aspect of society, and environmental regulation is no exception. New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo recently rolled back clean water regulations, providing medium size dairy farms with an exemption from certain regulations that were designed to protect nearby waters from contamination from the runoff of untreated cow manure.


This is significant for many reasons, among them the fact that a governor considered by most to be a moderate or liberal politician has determined that New York’s economic needs trump its need to maintain strict environmental standards.

As this isn’t intended to be a political blog (notwithstanding my penchant for very strong and vocal opinions in every other aspect of my professional and personal lives), I will not comment on whether this is a wise tradeoff. However, it has potentially huge implications on environmental litigation.

Assuming for the moment that Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., President of Waterkeeper Alliance and Chief Prosecuting Attorney for Riverkeeper, as well as environmental experts are correct that “deregulating an already dirty business . . . [that] has destroyed water quality and done nothing more than put money in the hands of a few corporations at the expense of the public,” it would seem to me that this area of law is ripe for litigation by environmental law attorneys.

Indeed, even if the environmental experts are overstating the potential effects of this deregulation, there will still be an increase in the number of persons believing that certain ailments are the result of cattle manure runoff pollution.

The main issue at bar is whether the new regulations violate the minimum requirements of both federal and state law. In addition, they claim that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation failed to obtain requisite EPA approval before changing the standards.

I assume that if a state as progressive as New York decides to lower its pollution standards to spur its economy, it’s a harbinger of things to come throughout the country.

Today’s takeaway? Brush up on your environmental law and find some good environmental law experts to help you out and put some scientific punch in your prosecution or defense of what I believe may be the beginning of a national trend.

By:  Ian Heller, Attorney at Law