Hog industry plans major new biogas project in Robeson County, but details are elusive
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 […]
One-word change in Farm Act could increase greenhouse gas emissions from hog farms
A one-word change in the Farm Act could allow hog farmers to capture methane from their waste lagoons, but choose not to use the gas for energy. Instead, the farmer could merely send the potent greenhouse gas through a flare and into the air. Current law allows for methane to be collected from the farms […]
Key questions unanswered as Smithfield Foods unveils new plan to capture hog farm methane
Giant pork producer asks Northamption County officials to sign off on proposal that would transport gas to Virginia, but declines to disclose key details Smithfield Foods and its affiliate Cardinal Bio-Energy plan to build two large swine gas projects in Northampton County and inject the gas into the Transco Pipeline, which will carry it out of the state and into Virginia.
Hog farm that used dead pigs, spoiled meat as fuel for biogas digester fined $34K
Millions of gallons of feces, liquified hogs and old meat illegally discharged from a lagoon into wetlands and the Nahunta Swamp. Levels of ammonia in the groundwater at more than 17 times legal limits. Failure to monitor or provide reports for fecal coliform, as well as for operation and maintenance. These are just three […]
From gerrymandered maps, to conflicting COVID-19 messages, to I-95 purgatory: The week’s top stories on Policy Watch
In this issue: 1. Panel of judges says new redistricting plans do not violate the NC constitution Maps for new congressional and legislative districts do not violate the state constitution and can be used in the next election, a three-judge panel said in a decision Tuesday that will be appealed to the state Supreme Court. […]
EPA launches civil rights inquiry into DEQ’s permitting of biogas systems on hog farms
The Environmental Protection Agency is opening an investigation into whether state regulators violated civil rights law when last spring, they granted permits to four industrialized hog farms that are installing anaerobic digesters to produce biogas for renewable energy. The investigation is in response to a complaint against the NC Department of Environmental Quality filed by […]
In role as judge, Donald van der Vaart rules on behalf of DEQ, hog farms and against enviro groups
The NC Department of Environmental Quality was legally right to allow industrialized hog farms to install equipment on their waste lagoons — known as anaerobic digesters — to generate biogas, the state’s chief administrative law judge ruled today. The judge: former DEQ Secretary Donald van der Vaart, appointed to the post by State Supreme Court […]
PFAS, climate change, mining and hazardous waste: 2022 will be another critical year for the environment in North Carolina
On the first day of 2022, the neighbors’ air conditioners were running. The temperature at Raleigh-Durham International Airport hit 78 degrees, a record for the date; at 1:51 p.m. the high humidity even produced a heat index of 79. A heat index. In January.
House passes Farm Act, which will fast-track controversial biogas projects
Rep. Jimmy Dixon calls agriculture "a whipping boy," says opposition is unfair Mt. Zion AME Church sits a ways off the road, flanked by farm fields near the Sampson County town of Magnolia. The small brick church, whose congregation is predominantly Black, is 100 years old. But its drinking water well is new.
Section weakening whistleblower protections struck from Farm Act
The House Agriculture Committee voted to remove a controversial section of the Farm Act involving whistleblower complaints today, but that portion could still be reinstated later. Rep. Nasif Majeed, a Mecklenburg County Democrat, successfully amended the bill to strike that provision from Senate Bill 605. It would have directed the Department of Labor, when dismissing […]
Hear no evil, see no evil? Senate committee limits public comments on controversial farm bill that would limit public comments
A Senate committee on Wednesday shut down public discussion of a contentious portion of the Farm Act, which coincidentally, sharply curbs public input on swine farms that install biogas systems and anaerobic digesters. The hog and energy industries support biogas, arguing the systems help alleviate climate change by capturing methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, that would otherwise be released into the air.