The lawyer for a large dairy near Thief River Falls told an appeals court panel Thursday that the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is acting arbitrarily in revoking the dairy's permit.
The MPCA told Excel Dairy it had to clean out a manure pond and inspect it for possible problems. Assistant attorney general Robert Roche told the judges the dairy ignored the order.
"They could have done this in the fall of 2007 when there were no cows and two feet of dried-up sludge," Roche said. "They blew it off for six months."
When the manure was finally pumped from the basin, the hydrogen sulfide fumes drove neighbors from their homes.
The dairy says the pollution was a result of the MPCA's order to empty the pond, and the agency shouldn't revoke its permit for doing something it was told to do.
Attorney Jack Perry said the dairy shouldn't be punished for the clean-up work.
"Because of issues with remediation work -- which we are not denying -- they are coming after the permit," Perry said. "That's not fair, because you don't change a permit, the normal operational permit, because of remediation."
The judges will rule within 90 days. Later this month, the MPCA is expected to finalize its permit revocation.