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California farmer John Duarte settles with feds

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Wondering what ever happened to the California court case involving a farmer who failed to get a permit to plow his land and faced a $2.8 million fine under the Clean Water Act? Just before the trial was to begin Tuesday morning, John Duarte settled.

According to Central Valley Business Times, Duarte, who owns and operates Duarte Nursery of Modesto, has agreed to pay $1.1 million in civil penalties and mitigation as well as restore creeks, streams, and wetlands to resolve violations of the Clean Water Act on property located in Tehama County.

In May, House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway (TX-11) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman, Bob Goodlatte sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions asking for a review of the Department of Justice’s decision to prosecute a California court case alleging violations under CWA – directly related to both the statutory exemptions for farming and Obama administration’s waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule.

One of Duarte’s lawyers, Anthony Francois of the Pacific Legal Foundation, told The Sacramento Bee the agreement was necessary to protect Duarte’s nursery business and its hundreds of employees.

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