Farm Act Bill Signed into Law
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — The Southern Environmental Law Center issued the following statement after Governor Cooper today signed Senate Bill 605, the Farm Act of 2021, into law. Section 11 of the Farm Act would fast-track a one-size-fits-all permit for swine waste-to-energy biogas projects, drastically limit community input—including from communities harmed—and transparency of information about industrial operations, limit agency review of proposed projects, weaken long-standing siting restrictions, and remove tax incentives for the installation of better, cleaner technology for managing the billion gallons of hog waste produced by industrial hog operations in North Carolina. These biogas projects rely on the primitive system of storing untreated hog feces and manure in waste pits and spraying that waste onto nearby land. This system pollutes waterways, dirties the air, and adversely impacts neighbor’s health; these burdens are disproportionately borne by Black, Latino, and Native American families in eastern North Carolina.
Blakely Hildebrand, an attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center, offered the following statement in response.
“Pollution from industrial hog operations is one of the most significant environmental justice concerns in our state. Once again, the hog industry wielded its political power to drown out the voices of families harmed by its pollution, continuing a long history of injustice in North Carolina.
“And yet again, the legislature ignored the objections from community members who must endure the stench and pollution from industrial hog operations in eastern North Carolina each and every day. We are disappointed that Governor Cooper ignored their objections and signed this bill into law.
“Imagine a 4th of July cookout next door to open lagoons full of feces and urine and fields sprayed with hog waste. The Department of Environmental Quality has the obligation to require cleaner technology in authorizing biogas projects through a general permit, and they must do so.”