The North Carolina General Assembly and South Carolina Legislature remain active. The NCGA will likely be active for another two months, while SC legislators are finished Thursday. Here are some updates and actions you can take to be heard by your elected officials:
One bill is at a decisive point, while two other bills of concern have not seen much movement since ‘crossover’ a couple weeks ago, when most bills had to pass at least one chamber (and go to the other chamber) if they were to stay alive.
H467 (protections for industrial meat pollution)
- Passed House and Senate but VETOED by governor. Now, first the House and then (if it passes the House) the Senate will hold votes to override the veto, potentially this week.
- Sometimes, waste from industrial agriculture (swine, poultry and other Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, or CAFOs) blows onto other properties, harming property values, health, and quality of life. Here in the Catawba, poultry CAFOs are a growing issue – giant fans in the poultry houses blow out ammonia, particulates, and chicken feathers. Breathing downwind can be difficult and unpleasant. H467 would limit the damages neighbors could recover in a nuisance lawsuit, excluding harms to health, lost wages, and lost enjoyment of property.
- Ask your House representative to vote against the veto override. Click here to find your House rep.
- More details are available here.
S434 (buffer repeals)
- No movement, no known timeline. Waiting for committee assignment/consideration in House.
- However, you have definitely been contacting your elected officials because many have come out against both Section 7.2 (repeal Catawba-specific 50-foot buffer) and Section 2 (repeal buffers passed by local municipalities, mainly counties).
- If you haven’t contacted your House representative, you still should and ask them to remove Sections 2 and 7.2! Click here to find your House rep.
- More information available here.
H576 (aerosolization of landfill leachate)
- No movement, no known timeline. Waiting for committee assignment/consideration in Senate.
- This bill would force allowing this aerosolization technology, which would deal with landfill leachate by spraying it up into the air, where — as the technology’s patent holder claims — water will evaporate, but contaminants will fall back down over the landfill. Intuitively, it seems like a bad idea. And scientifically, well, we haven’t seen anything supportive. This technology has a disturbing lack of study, and the bill fails to provide protections, something very disturbing given uncertainty about the technology. What if it’s windy? Will there be study for off-site contamination? Will surrounding communities be monitored for health effects, and will they know how to document and report health issues? Spewing contaminants into the air is why we have mercury contamination and consumption advisories for our fish (via coal power plants upwind of the Carolinas and years of unfiltered air emissions).
- This excerpt from a WRAL article provides additional reason to oppose H576
- Rep. Chuck McGrady, R-Henderson, had more practical concerns about the bill. “I don’t think, legislatively, we ought to tell the department what the right technology is,” McGrady said. “This may not be the right technology in the future, but we’ve written it into state law.”
- Contact your senator and ask them to vote no on H576! Click here to find your senator.
- More details on the issues available in this article.
H3929 (poultry operation permitting)
- Would make it harder for rural communities to address issues with nearby poultry operations. H3929’s sponsors are hoping to rush the legislation through in the last days of the legislative session. The bill needs more time and thought. As currently written, it would increase land use disputes and divide rural communities.
- Would strip DHEC of the ability to consider site-specific conditions when establishing separation distances between poultry operations and nearby properties, neighbors, and waterbodies.
- Could restrict the right of neighbors from using their property — such as letting guests and family members use firearms on their own property if the poultry houses are within 900 feet of a property line.
- Takes away the rights of neighbors to participate in the public decision making process unless they live within 1 mile of the proposed poultry facility.
- If the legislature truly wants to reduce conflicts between rural communities and agricultural operations, they should set up a system that increases public participation in the permitting process from day 1. Rather, this bill tries to keep the public out of the public process and give the poultry industry the right to ignore their neighbors.
- While the bill has improved through the work of the House Agriculture Committee, there are still major issues. It should be amended to encourage good neighbor relationships — not give one side an upper hand and make the relationships worse. We need to continue dialogue about how to support poultry farmers while balancing the needs of their neighbors in rural South Carolina.
- Ask your House representative to delay passage of this bill. Click here to find your House rep.