As in the Hudson case, Waterkeeper and its affiliates attempted to assert their authority as non-profit enforcers of Clean Water Act judicial precedents set by lawsuits – not by federal law.
How it evolved
The case began in 2007 with a Public Information Act request by Waterkeeper affiliates for nutrient management plan records of Nest Egg Farm in Princess Anne, Md. Maryland Department of Agriculture denied it, as it did a second request seeking details on all Maryland poultry farms.
The conflict escalated in 2008 as Waterkeeper Alliance filed suit to gain poultry farm names, nutrient records and enforcement records for the previous three years. When MDA surmised those enforcement records could be disclosed, Maryland Farm Bureau intervened to prevent disclosure of confidential information about the farmers, their locations and their business plans.
"We hope the university system finally takes action to stop these costly lawsuits intended to harass hard-working farm families," noted Langenfelder. "Instead, it should refocus its efforts on helping farmers stay in compliance with nutrient management and other state laws."
The Appeals Court also ruled that court costs be paid by Waterkeeper Alliance.