Lisa Sorg

Lisa Sorg

Assistant Editor and Environmental Reporter Lisa Sorg helps manage newsroom operations while covering the environment, climate change, agriculture and energy.

The Lumber River

Newsline special report: A community inundated with industrial waste

By: - May 27, 2023

[Editor’s note: This story on water pollution is among several that NC Newsline is publishing about environmental justice issues and cumulative pollution impacts in Robeson County. Read previous stories in the series about biogas projects near Paxton and a proposed private military training site a few miles from Rowland. Look for more stories about air […]

Judge tosses historic fine against Bottomley Properties because wrong DEQ employee signed the paperwork

By: - May 26, 2023

A judge tossed a $263,000 civil penalty assessed to Bottomley Properties for procedural reasons, finding that the Department of Environmental Quality employee who signed the paperwork was not authorized to do so. Administrative Law Judge John Evans, himself a former DEQ chief deputy secretary in the McCrory administration, issued his decision earlier this month. In […]

In the hot seat: Development, climate leads to increased risk of wildfires near NC cities and suburbs

By: - May 24, 2023

More than 2.1 million homes in North Carolina lie within the “wildland urban interface” — populated areas on the fringe of forests, scrub and other vegetation — and are at a greater risk of wildfires because of development patterns and climate change, according to a new national report by Climate Central, a science-based nonprofit organization. […]

a bomb laying in a field

Bombs in a swamp: Robeson County residents battling proposal for private military training site

By: - May 19, 2023

Bombs in a swamp.  A fraught piece of land ensnared in a family drama. Separately, the issues stir enough conflict to employ a dozen lawyers. Together, they could contaminate groundwater, creeks, rivers and ultimately drinking water supplies for an untold number of residents in southern Robeson County — and potentially South Carolina. Alottabang, LLC, wants […]

Photo of protesters known as the Raging Grannies. They are dressed in colorful hats and aprons with protest buttons. They are demonstrating against Enviva's wood pellet industry.

Demonstrators gather outside Enviva’s Raleigh office to protest wood pellet industry

By: - May 18, 2023

Crowned with colorful hats, their aprons studded with protest buttons, a half dozen members of the Raging Grannies charmed their way past security — “we’re just going to our cars” — and took an elevator to Suite 1020 of the Bank of America building in midtown Raleigh. They assembled outside the glass doors of the […]

DEQ again draws short straw in Senate version of budget

By: - May 16, 2023

The NC Department of Environmental Quality would take an $8 million hit in the Senate version of the state budget, released yesterday, compared with proposed appropriations in the House version.  And the 38 additional full-time positions recommended by the House would be cut to just eight by the Senate. DEQ budget Senate       […]

Kraig Westerbeek, vice president of Smithfield Renewables and Joe Birschbach of Cardinal Bio-Energy

Cardinal Bio-Energy, Smithfield withdraw plan for swine gas operations in Northampton County

By: - May 15, 2023

Smithfield Foods and its affiliate Cardinal Bio-Energy have withdrawn their application to build two large swine gas projects in Northampton County, according to emails obtained by NC Newsline. The companies had applied to county officials for a special use permit that would have allowed them to install methane capture systems at several Smithfield-owned facilities: on Spud’s […]

In Canton, paper mill’s closure eliminates jobs and leaves 115 years’ of pollution behind

By: - May 5, 2023

Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains about 20 miles west of Asheville, the small town of Canton seems to sprout from the steep hillsides, defying gravity. Its downtown is laid out as a surrender to the topography: a warren of alleys and hidden walkways, coiled roads and railroad spurs. Most important, the town is cleft […]


Environmental groups file civil rights complaint against DEQ over scant poultry farm regulations

By: - May 3, 2023

Jefferson Currie, the Lumber River Riverkeeper, drove his truck down St. Paul’s Road, a narrow, sandy stretch near the Robeson-Hoke County line and began counting the chicken barns: “Four, eight, twelve … this is a 48-barn operation,” Currie said, “at 35,000 per barn” – doing the math, that’s roughly 1.7 million birds being raised for […]

Construction runoff

NC House environmental bill is likely unconstitutional. A committee passed it anyway.

By: - April 26, 2023

An environmental bill under consideration at the General Assembly that’s ostensibly about dirt is so freighted with questionable provisions that it could violate the U.S. Constitution, direct environmental permit holders to break federal law, and attract a court challenge. House Bill 579, sponsored by Rep. Mark Brody, a Union County Republican, narrowly passed the House […]

a modular home being elevated

ReBuild NC must increase pace of home completions or risk losing federal disaster funding

By: - April 25, 2023

ReBuild NC’s homeowner recovery program has finished only 25% of the houses damaged by Hurricane Matthews and Florence, a pace that, if uncorrected, could jeopardize its federal funding. Roughly 4,700 applicants have been approved for new or rehabbed homes, state data show. Of those, just 1,118 are finished. Robeson County’s program accounts for 201 of those […]

hog farm

Hog industry plans major new biogas project in Robeson County, but details are elusive

By: - April 24, 2023

In any given year, roughly 300,000 hogs are born, weaned, fattened and slaughtered in Robeson County. During their short lifetimes, the animals excrete about 333 million gallons of feces and urine that percolates in open-air lagoons. The rancid cesspools and vast fields where the waste is sprayed are poorly suited for the terrain. Dimpled with […]