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AG Nessel Takes Action Against Holloo Farms on Behalf of EGLE

LANSING - Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel filed a civil action against a large Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) in Calhoun County related to a history of noncompliance with Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) permitting and the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act (NREPA). 

The complaint, filed in Ingham County Circuit Court, alleges Holloo Farms, LLC's ongoing violations threaten "to impair the natural resources of Calhoun County by overloading the Kalamazoo River, Lake Allegan, and related water bodies with nutrients and introducing bacteria and other pathogens from animal waste into the waters of the state. Further, Defendant's longstanding, ongoing refusal to fully comply with its permitting requirements threatens the integrity of the EGLE permitting program because Defendant has gained an unfair financial advantage relative to compliant permittees." 

The filing goes on to state, "[i]mproperly managing the waste produced at Holloo Farms Headquarters and Holloo Farms Satellite threatens nearby waters of the state with serious environmental and public health harms such as contaminated drinking water, surface water unsafe for recreation, and excess nutrients that harm aquatic life and contribute to algae blooms, which, in turn, render surface water unsafe for drinking or recreation." 

"Water is one of our most precious resources, whether it is in the lakes and rivers we swim and fish in, the aquifers we drink from, or the groundwater flowing beneath us all," Nessel said. "Any company that chooses to pollute these shared resources instead of responsibly following environmental laws will pay a price for selfishly putting their own bottom line above public health and safety." 

"Responsible management of waste generated by large livestock operations is critical to protecting our state's freshwater resources and the health of those who enjoy them," EGLE Director Liesl Clark said. "Flagrant and repeated violations of those responsibilities in this case are disappointing and left us with no alternative to today's action." 

CAFO waste contains nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus and pathogens like E. coli. When the waste is improperly managed, the nitrogen and phosphorous can harm soil quality and plants on land, while the pollution can kill fish and other aquatic life. Humans can also become sick after recreating in water contaminated with E. coli or eating fish or shellfish from contaminated water. 

Holloo's noncompliance dates to 2004, when the Calhoun County Drain Commissioner first contacted EGLE about suspected discharge of manure from the operations into Budlong Drain, which is connected to Huckleberry Drain through a tile and an open ditch. Huckleberry Drain discharges into Wilder Creek, the Kalamazoo River, and ultimately Lake Michigan.   

Since then, Holloo has discharged manure repeatedly in the same area, most recently in 2019, when Holloo's improper land application of manure resulted in a discharge of approximately 72,000 gallons of runoff contaminated with CAFO waste to Huckleberry Drain. 

In January, EGLE issued a violation notice related to ongoing permit violations, including improper land application of manure, as well as groundwater contamination. EGLE requested compliance by the end of January. Holloo Farms did not comply with the notice. 

Years of poor operations management and violations are detailed in the complaint, which is now available on the Department of Attorney General. The first part of the complaint can be found here, the second part can be found here and the third part can be found here

Among the terms sought, the civil action seeks an order for civil fines and enjoining Holloo Farms from unlawfully discharging waste into waterways and groundwater.