Federal prosecutors say the owners of the horse racing track in New Orleans have agreed to pay a $2.8 million penalty for letting horse manure and urine into the city’s drainage system

The U.S. Justice Department described the fine to be paid by Churchill Downs Inc., owner of the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, as the largest ever paid by a “concentrated animal feeding” operation under the Clean Water Act, news outlets reported.

The agreement settles a federal complaint alleging that the Fair Grounds violated that law and the track’s state permit more than 250 times between 2012 and 2018.

“This consent decree will stop the flow of untreated process wastewater into the local sewer system, which leads to local waters used for fishing and ultimately Lake Pontchartrain, in a way that recognizes the challenges presented by the racetrack’s urban location.” said Jonathan Brightbill, principal deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, said Tuesday in a news release.

Churchill Downs, based in Louisville, Kentucky, said it has worked with federal, state and local environmental agencies to find ways to deal with wastewater and stormwater at the New Orleans track. It “has agreed to meaningful measures, including $5.6 million of capital improvements over the next three years, to address the conditions and obligations under the consent decree,” the company told The Times-Picayune / The New Orleans Advocate.

Neighborhoods the government considers environmental justice communities surround the

House Democrats on Tuesday are marking up and debating a bill that would amend the U.S. bankruptcy code to permit student loans to be easily discharged in bankruptcy.

The bill, H.R. 2648, also known as Student Borrower Bankruptcy Relief Act, would simply strike the section of the bankruptcy code that makes it much more difficult for student loan borrowers to discharge their student debt in bankruptcy.

The bankruptcy code treats student loan debt differently from most other forms of consumer debt, such as credit cards and medical bills. Borrowers must generally prove that they have an “undue hardship” in order to discharge their student loan debt in bankruptcy. These restrictions initially only applied to federal student loans, but were subsequently expanded to cover private student loans following the passage of a 2005 bankruptcy reform bill.

The “undue hardship” standard applied to student loan debt is not adequately defined in statute, so bankruptcy judges have established various tests (which vary by jurisdiction) to determine discharge eligibility. In order to show that they meet this standard, borrowers must initiate an “adversary proceeding,” which is essentially a lawsuit within the bankruptcy case that is brought against the borrower’s student loan lenders. Through the adversary proceeding, the borrower must present evidence showing that they meet the undue hardship standard, while the student lenders present opposing evidence.

The adversary proceeding can be a long and invasive process for borrowers, and can get quite expensive for those who retain a private attorney. Student loan lenders may also have significantly more resources than borrowers, which can give them an edge in the litigation. As a result, many student loan borrowers are unsuccessful in proving undue hardship, and many others don’t even try.

Momentum has been building in recent years for bankruptcy reform. Former Vice President Joe