A federal judge in Minneapolis handed a significant victory to transparency advocates this week, after she threw out a lawsuit brought by two agribusiness groups. The issue was whether the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency must withhold information that identifies the location of farms and contact information for farmers. As I pointed out in a column last month, that information is already publicly available through state web sites.

That was persuasive to Judge Ann Montgomery, who determined the National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau Federation lacked standing in the case because they could not show that anyone was or would be harmed by the release of this information. Montgomery's opinion noted that one farmer who asserted his privacy rights in the case - Patrick Lunemann of Twin Eagle Dairy - "lists the farm’s address on its promotional Facebook page."

Montgomery also had this pristine line: "The public’s interest in clean water sources, and thus transparency related to identified pollution sources, is certain."

Here's the ruling:


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