The EPA vs. Mark Ford

November 1, 2019

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The trainer responds to a civil lawsuit brought against him by the Environmental Protection Agency accusing him of “poisoning the waters of the United States” at his training center and warns other horsepeople could be under similar scrutiny.

by Dave Briggs

Trainer Mark Ford is being sued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the United States Department of Justice’s Manhattan office for allegedly “poisoning the waters of the United States” at his 76-acre standardbred training center in Wallkill, NY.

Contacted by HRU, Ford said he was reluctant to say too much on the record about the civil lawsuit under the advice of his lawyers.

“Needless to say we’re very upset about this situation and have been working diligently to bring it to a conclusion, as we have been for the last five years,” Ford said. “Unfortunately we are dealing with the bureaucracy of government agencies and a complex set of circumstances that have been exacerbated with the repeal of the 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule.”

On Oct. 17, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York sent out a press release (full press release here) that said, in part, that the EPA had filed a civil lawsuit that day against Ford and his stable “seeking injunctive relief and civil penalties for violations of the Clean Water Act (“CWA”) in connection with Defendants’ construction and operation of a horse racing training facility in Orange County.”

The release quoted U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman as saying, “The defendants violated the laws protecting our Nation’s wetlands and have repeatedly discharged waste from their horse training facility into the waters of the United States. This lawsuit will hold the defendants accountable for violating our environmental laws and require them to remedy the significant damage they have caused to federal wetlands.”

According to the press release, part of the Complaint filed in White Plains, NY federal court alleges Ford, “destroyed existing federal wetlands and rerouted streams in the course of building a horse racing training center… In addition, Defendants have operated a concentrated animal feeding operation without a permit, allowing horse washwater and process wastewater to be discharged into waters of the United States. Defendants also violated the terms of a stormwater construction general permit during construction work at one of the properties from January 2016 to February 2017.”

Ford said, “It’s important to note that anyone in our business associated with ownership of a horse farm or training center is susceptible to this same type of scrutiny by the Environmental Protection Agency until this case is clarified and resolved. My legal team and I are in the process of doing that right now.”

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