The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency moved one step closer Tuesday to shutting down a large dairy near Thief River Falls.
Excel Dairy says it's trying to meet the conditions of its state permit, but Assistant Attorney General Robert Roche told the Citizens' Board of the MPCA that the dairy is playing games.
"The conditions to work this out -- that was the permit you issued last April. That's what they were supposed to do to get into compliance. They didn't do it and now they come in saying, 'Let us do it all a year later.'" Roche said.
There haven't been cows at the dairy for more than a year, but manure is still being removed from lagoons. Fumes from the dairy have driven neighbors from their homes.
A lawyer for the Excel Dairy, Jack Perry, told the board it should allow the operation to continue because the farm is substantially in compliance with its permit.
"Substantial compliance means good faith efforts, there's conditions that can come into play to satisfy this, that a reasonable person would have reasonable confidence that those conditions, whatever they are, would be satisfied. It's the reasonableness standard," Perry said.
The MPCA Board decided the dairy should not be allowed to continue operating under its expired permit. In a separate legal action, the dairy is asking for the permit to be extended. That's not expected to be resolved for several months.