NewsTracker Transparency and Elections

NC5: Did TDEC Ignore Unlawful Pollution by State Lawmaker?

A WTVF-TV NewsChannel 5 story that aired Monday raises the possibility that state regulators turned a blind eye to animal-waste management violations on a hog farm run by West Tennessee state Rep. Andy Holt.

WTVF reported that it’d been told by a state inspector, now retired, that Holt, a Republican from Dresden and vice chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, has a history of not properly disposing of dead hogs and manure. Furthermore, when the Department of Environment and Conservation was alerted to the situation, a formal probe was discouraged by the agency’s higher-ups.

Interviewed for the WTVF story, Holt denied pressuring TDEC to give his ag operation a pass. Holt appeared in the story to acknowledge that he operated his hog farm without proper permits, however he denied that he’d done so to flout the law. “This isn’t something where I just said nope, I don’t want a permit, I don’t want to have to apply for that. That’s not the case,” Holt told the news station. “There were several attempts made to apply for the permit.”

TDEC Commissioner Robert Martineau also denied Holt was receiving special treatment.

Aerial footage run during the WTVF segment purported to show a dead hog on Holt’s property in 2015, although he has maintained he’s been out of the business since the end of 2014.

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