Pushing to Spray Landfill Leachate

In Raleigh, NC, there’s a proposal in the NC House to force state environmental regulators to allow the waste industry and other industry that deals with huge amounts of wastewater to spray it in the air without having any permit. Its called aerosolization and it has not been scientifically proven to be safe.  The bill, House Bill 576, is sponsored by Rep. Jimmy Dixon, R-Duplin.  Click HERE to read more about the latest on this story.

Partnerships With Power: West Badin

At NC Environmental Justice Network, we like to amplify the voices of impacted communities in the interests of One Love, human rights, environmental justice and equal and equitable access to human and natural resources.

Click HERE to see a video on how Pavithra Vasudevan, a UNC Ph.D student in geography, worked with Naeema Muhammad, NCEJN Organizing Co-Director, on the collaborative research project “Race and Waste in an Aluminum Town.”

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Join us for the next NCEJN Quarterly Meeting Saturday, April 29th!

ncej logoWe’re having our first quarterly meeting of 2017! Quarterly meetings are intended to bring our network of community advocates, researchers, activists, and students together in impacted communities to discuss pertinent environmental issues and strategies affecting those communities and our larger network. 

Our April meeting will be in Roseboro, NC, in Sampson County, which is impacted by the hog industry, the poultry industry, and the pending Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Our host is the Snow Hill Concerned Citizens of Sampson County.

Thanks to our board member, Mr. Ellis Tatum, for coordinating the meeting! 

Topics of discussion will include gas and oil pipelines, including the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, and the impacts of toxic industry on property values.

If you have other topics for consideration, please provide them on the RSVP form below.

We will serve a continental breakfast from 9:30am-10am, followed by the meeting, which will run from 10am-2pm. 

Please use this link to RSVP and suggest topics.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Sincerely,

NCEJN Board & Staff

Naeema Muhammad, Organizing Co-Director

Ayo Wilson, Administrative Co-Director

Don Cavellini             Danielle Spurlock                  Peter Gilbert

Elsie Herring              Danielle Purifoy                    Ellis Tatum

Chandra Taylor         Nicholas Woodard                 Courtney Woods

Legislature Proposes Protecting Polluters over People

Two bills recently introduced in the North Carolina House and Senate threaten to strip property rights from victims of nuisance conditions caused by agricultural or forestry operations. Under current North Carolina law, victims of nuisance can recover monetary “damages” for an unreasonable interference with their use and enjoyment of their property. The amount of compensatory damages is determined by the jury and is supposed to compensate the plaintiff for the harm caused by the nuisance. But these bills would prevent recovery for harm other than impacts on property values.

That means someone who suffered health impacts from living in nuisance conditions for years would have their suffering reduced to a real estate valuation. One resident whose neighbor made her feel like a prisoner in her own home would have her recovery limited to the market value of her “prison”.

The timing of these legislative actions suggest they are not, as proponents suggest, an attempt to protect farmers, but instead an attempt to protect polluters. Currently, approximately 500 North Carolinians, most of whom are African-American, are suing a multinational corporation for nuisance conditions caused by their industrial hog operations. Those lawsuits do not blame farmers for the harm; they allege liability on the part of a business entity that last year raked in a record $1.7B in profit. But the bills would limit recovery in these pending cases, raising concerns about their constitutionality. This begs the question: who are our representatives trying to protect?

Legislators protecting this corporation are failing to protect vulnerable North Carolinians. After all, many of these nuisance-causing operations are located in communities of color. For instance, a recent study concluded “proportions of Blacks, Hispanics and American Indians living within 3 miles of an industrial hog operation are 1.54, 1.39 and 2.18 times higher, respectively, than the proportion of non-Hispanic Whites.” Even worse, this bill would exacerbate already disproportionate impacts by incentivizing location of nuisance causing operations in areas with already suppressed property values. All told, these bills would prevent citizens from recovering damages for existing racially disparate harm and likely cause even more racially disparate impacts.

NCEJN will continue to advocate against this bill and for the protection of North Carolinian’s legal rights to make polluters pay for the harm they cause to quality of life. We encourage you to join that fight and call your legislators to express opposition to H467 and S460 today.

Changing Climate/Changing Work: Women Leaders on Economic Empowerment & the Human Right to Water

On World Water Day – March 22, 2017 – the US Human Rights Network (USHRN) is bringing together an incredible group of Indigenous and women of Color leaders based in the US, US-occupied territories, and Tunisia for an official side event at the 61st United Nations Commission the Status of Women (CSW).  Panelists will discuss the climate crisis, economic empowerment, and the human right to water from the perspective of Southern, Black, Indigenous, and Global South communities.

Moderator: Rosalee  Gonzalez, Co-Coordinator of the Continental Network of Indigenous Women of the Americas, North Region; and USHRN Board of Directors

Hosts: 

  • Colette Pichon Battle, Executive Director of US Human Rights Network
  • Ife Kilimanjaro, Senior Director of Network Engagement, US Climate Action Network

Panelists:

  • Naeema Muhammad, Organizing Co-Director of NC Environmental Justice Network (NCEJN)
  • Catherine Coleman Flowers, Director for the Alabama Center for Rural Enterprise (ACRE)
  • Chief Caleen Sisk, Spiritual Leader and Tribal Chief of the Winnenem Wintu Tribe
  • Sarah Toumi, Founder of Acacias for All

March 22, 2017, 10:30 AM – Noon, UN Church Center, 777 United Nations Plaza #8G, 2nd Floor Conference Room, New York, NY 10017

For more information, to register online or watch the livestream: Click Here!

 

 

 

In Conditions of Fresh Water: An Artistic Exploration of Environmental Racism

inconditons-posterWith their project and resulting exhibition—In Conditions of Fresh Water—artist Torkwase Dyson and attorney/environmental scientist Danielle Purifoy explore environmental racism based on their collaborative documentary research with citizens in two North Carolina and Alabama counties.
Black towns and communities in Alamance (NC) and Lowndes (AL) Counties date back to the post-Civil War era, when free blacks across the South and beyond established places of their own to distance themselves from white terrorism and to build their own economic, social, and political institutions.
The land on which they settled was often undesirable to white property interests. Many of these communities still lack access to viable wastewater infrastructure, threatening residents’ health, local water quality, and capacity for future economic development.
Grassroots activists in both counties continue fighting to attain these basic services in the 21st century.
During the summer of 2016, Dyson and Purifoy worked and traveled in Studio South Zero, a mobile solar-powered artist workspace built by Dyson with recycled materials, conducting interviews and documenting these historic black communities. The exhibition features selections of the resulting art—photographs, drawings, paintings, and writing—that was inspired by these places and their people, histories, power struggles, and victories.
Opening event: Thursday, March 2: 6 p.m. reception; 7 p.m. panel with Torkwase Dyson, Danielle Purifoy, Omega and Brenda Wilson (West End Revitalization Association, Alamance County), and Catherine Coleman Flowers (Lowndes County)

For more about the project:

http://www.scalawagmagazine.org/in-conditions-of-fresh-water-home

http://pelicanbomb.com/art-review/2017/black-interiority-notes-on-architecture-infrastructure-environmental-justice-and-abstract-drawing

Dyson and Purifoy’s community partners for In Conditions of Fresh Water: the Alabama Center for Rural Enterprise and the West End Revitalization Association. Duke University sponsors and supporters: Center for Documentary Studies, Council for the Arts, Nicholas School of the Environment, Department of African and African American Studies, Human Rights Center at the Franklin Humanities Institute, and the Environmental Law and Policy Clinic. 

See Race and Waste in an Aluminum Town at UNC! Feb. 24, 25, 26

UNC Dept. of Communication’s Swain Studio Six Performance Series presents Race and Waste in an Aluminum Town, a play in development dramatizing oral histories of African American industrial workers and residents of West Badin, a company town in North Carolina.
Featuring subtly evocative performances by LeDawna Akins, Dorothy Clark, Rhetta Greene, John Harris, Carly Jones, Trevor Johnson, Thomasi McDonald, and John Murphy. Directed by Joseph Megel (founding Artistic Director, UNC Process Series and StreetSigns Center for Literature and Performance), set design by Rob Hamilton and media design by Joseph Amodei.
Based on interviews and ethnographic research conducted by Pavithra Vasudevan (PhD Candidate, UNC Dept. of Geography) in collaboration with Naeema Muhammad (NCEJN Organizing Co-Director).
Feb. 24 at 8PM, Feb. 25 at 8PM, Feb. 26 at 2PM
$5 students/employees, $10 general
For tickets and info: (919) 843-5666
http://comm.unc.edu/event/race-waste-aluminum-town

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19th Annual EJ Summit Announcement

The NCEJN Planning Committee announces the theme for the 19th Annual EJ Summit: Building People’s Power Against State Violence! The committee envisions Summit sessions that consider the intersections of state violence (e.g., police, military, government policies) and environmental injustice, with a special focus on impacts on women, LGBTQ people, immigrants, youth (e.g., school to prison pipeline), and people of color.  We will circulate a call for proposals shortly.  In the meantime, if you have questions or suggestions, please send an email to: ncejsummit@gmail.com.

link in the chain

I am a link in the chain, and the link in the chain will not break here!

We’re Hiring!

Job Announcement: NCEJN Organizing Project Manager

The North Carolina Environmental Justice Network (NCEJN) is a coalition of community organizations and their supporters who work with low income communities and people of color to promote health and environmental equity, clean industry, safe work places, and fair access to all human and natural resources. We seek to accomplish these goals through organizing, advocacy, research and education based on principles of economic and political equity.

The position of Organizing Project Manager will involve supporting NCEJN’s efforts to connect and organize communities impacted by concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), as well as organizing around issues of energy and climate justice, landfills, basic amenities, and other areas of intersectionality. The Organizing Project Manager will report to and support the Organizing Co-Director in our current organizing efforts and collaborate to increase outreach to other communities across the state impacted by environmental injustice. The responsibilities are as follows:

  • Actively develops new relationships and nurtures existing relationships with communities of color and modest wealth communities impacted by issues of climate justice, energy injustice and efficiency, landfills, access to basic amenities and other issues of environmental justice through calls, letter writing, statewide travel for meetings and working to connect communities with resources
  • Assists the Organizing Co-Director in conducting weekly conference calls with CAFO Organizers to track progress and provide support; assists the Organizing Co-Director in scheduling meetings in communities impacted by issues of environmental justice
  • Assists the Organizing Co-Director in conducting site visits and evaluations of CAFO Organizers in the field
  • Works with impacted communities and partner communities to site, develop and coordinate NCEJN Quarterly Meetings
  • Responds to educational, faith-based and governmental requests to speak on issues and activities of NCEJN
  • Develops educational materials for communities and university/student groups interested in understanding issues of environmental justice and options for avenues of involvement
  • Assists the Administrative Co-Director in representation of NCEJN at meetings with various stakeholders, particularly traditional environmental groups
  • Consults on planning, development and organization of Annual EJ Summit

The following skills are important for this position:

  • Experience in community organizing
  • Experience in meeting facilitation
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Excellent time management skills
  • Good teamwork skills and interpersonal effectiveness

This position requires considerable travel across the state, so a valid driver’s license and access to a registered vehicle are needed. This position is currently funded for two years.

To be considered for the position, please submit a cover letter, CV, and the names of 3 references. Materials should be emailed to Ayo Wilson at ncejnetwork@gmail.com by February 28, 2017.

UPDATE: Title VI – CAFO complaint

NCEJN, REACH, and Waterkeeper Alliance recently published a press release regarding the EPA’s letter to the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

You can read Waterkeeper Alliance’s post, “EPA Expresses ‘Deep Concern’ Over Discriminatory Impacts of Industrial Hog Operations in North Carolina”, here.

Also, you can read the letter sent to DEQ here.

NCEJN and Allies Respond to Latest Attack by Hog Industry

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Bullies don’t like it when you fight back. For decades, the multi-national corporations that control the hog industry in Eastern North Carolina have bullied people who live near hog facilities. Elsie Herring has been standing up to the industry since the mid-1990s, and she’s gotten a lot of attention. Now, the industry is hiding behind a public relations front group, NC Farm Families, in an effort to discredit Ms. Herring and unfairly minimize the suffering that comes with living next-door to an industrial hog facility.

Ms. Herring lives in Wallace, NC—in Duplin County, which hosts more than 2 million hogs– on land that has been in her family for over 100 years. A few decades ago, industrial hog facilities began to appear in Ms. Herring’s community—just as they did in many communities of color across eastern NC. As illustrated by this 2016 photo, showing the sprayfield near the corner of River Road and Beulah Herring Lane, Elsie’s home is now surrounded by these facilities, and her health and quality of life have suffered as a result. As Ms. Herring recently stated in the News & Observer, “My family, neighbors, and I have been held prisoner in our own homes by the unbearable stench from the multiple industrial hog operations within a quarter mile of my community.” Ms. Herring no longer dries her clothes on a clothesline, for fear that they would be covered by hog manure sprayed by the facility next-door. She doesn’t garden or entertain outdoors, and no longer uses her well or fishes or swims in nearby streams. Yet, in a gross dismissal of her suffering, NC Farm Families inaccurately claimed that Ms. Herring’s problems were resolved 18 years ago.

The industry claimed to have ended the problems its pollution causes by planting some trees. There’s some dispute about the distance between Elsie’s home and the nearest field where hog manure is being sprayed; however, this 2016 video footage [Video of Spraying] of the sprayfield closest to Elsie’s home (which NC Farm Families ignores in their recent attack, identifying only the sprayfields near River Road), makes clear that waste is still being sprayed very close to her house.

Even if we take industry spokespersons at their word, they’re distributing liquid waste within 200 feet of Ms. Herring’s property. These trees cannot—and do not—prevent wind from blowing manure onto Ms. Herring’s home and discouraging her from using her own property. Nor can they eliminate the noxious odor that permeates the air. Nor can they cure the groundwater pollution that prevents her from using her well. In short, planting trees was an inadequate measure taken long ago to address problems that persist today. Ms. Herring continues to suffer the effects of the hog facilities next-door, and she continues to speak out about the pollution from these operations—a burden that disproportionately harms African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans.

By attacking Ms. Herring, the industry seeks to draw focus away from the system of environmental racism that it perpetuates. But Ms. Herring’s experience is, sadly, not unique. Instead, it is representative of the plight of countless North Carolinians who live near industrial hog facilities. Because of that reality, Ms. Herring has worked for years as an NCEJN community organizer to support those whose stories mirror her own. She is not alone in her suffering, and she is not alone in her advocacy.

The industry attack is also meant to discredit the Waterkeeper Alliance, which, along with NCEJN, seeks to raise up the voices of those harmed by pollution from industrial hog facilities. But this misleading attack serves only to emphasize the importance of standing united against the deceptive industrial hog industry. As Ms. Herring wrote in her op-ed, “I support family farmers, but the multi-billion dollar, multi-national corporation that owns 80 percent of the pigs in North Carolina is putting my family at risk.” Along with brave advocates like Ms. Herring, NCEJN and Waterkeeper Alliance will continue to work with our partners to promote health and environmental quality for all people of North Carolina. [ http://blogs.law.unc.edu/civilrights/category/environmental-justice/] The polluting practices of the industrial hog industry demand a response, and we’re fighting back.

UPDATE: Environmental Groups Challenge NCDEQ For Failing To Respond to Citizen Complaints

Environmental Groups Challenge NCDEQ For Failing To Respond to Citizen Complaints

[Please find the original post on Waterkeeper Alliance’s website here.]

RALEIGH, NC – Yesterday, Waterkeeper AllianceCape Fear River Watch and the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network (NCEJN) joined together to challenge the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) for a failure to respond to citizen complaints. The petition, filed by the UNC Center for Civil Rights on the groups’ behalf in the North Carolina Office of Administrative Hearings, alleges NCDEQ failed to respond as required to credible evidence of illegal activity by operators of industrial hog production facilities.

Each year, over 2,000 concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) with capacity to house more than 9 million hogs in North Carolina generate billions of gallons of waste that is laden with nutrients, bacteria, and pathogens. This waste is stored in unlined cesspools which NCDEQ and the industry call “lagoons,” and sprayed onto adjacent fields. The vast majority of swine CAFOs in North Carolina are concentrated in the state’s coastal plain, where sandy soils, frequency of precipitation, and the shallow depth of the water table make land application of waste particularly threatening to water quality and public health.

State permits governing swine CAFOs prohibit land application when the risk of runoff or discharge is heightened, including more than 4 hours after the issuance of a flood watch by the National Weather Service (NWS).

“In advance of both Tropical Storm Hermine and Hurricane Matthew, we captured time-stamped and geo-located images of operators spraying waste more than 4 hours after a flood watch was issued and we reported those violations in complaints to NCDEQ,” said Will Hendrick, with Waterkeeper Alliance. “Additional complaints and evidence were reported verbally to the agency, but it appears those complaints were ignored.”

“NCDEQ has let the people of North Carolina down by failing to act upon credible citizen complaints of illegal activities,” said Kemp Burdette, Cape Fear Riverkeeper. “Instead the agency has given industrial animal operations a free pass to break the law and pollute public waterways. This kind of negligence endangers North Carolinians and makes a mockery of environmental regulation in our state.”

The failure to investigate is particularly egregious because illegal pollution from swine CAFOs in Eastern North Carolina disproportionately impacts communities of color. Research shows that the percentages of African Americans, Latinos and Native Americans living within three miles of these swine CAFOs are 1.50, 1.41 and 2.22 times higher, respectively, than that of non-Hispanic whites.

“African American, Latino, and Native American communities disproportionately bear the burden of living near industrial hog operations in Eastern North Carolina. NCDEQ has ignored our continued requests for adequate regulation and monitoring of this industry for years. Their continued failure to investigate complaints filed by members of NCEJN and other impacted community members adds insult to injury for people living with the stench and water contamination caused by swine CAFOs,” said NCEJN co-director, Naeema Muhammad.

NCDEQ must stop prioritizing polluters over people. The agency must follow and enforce the law by investigating credible complaints and issuing a “Notice of Violation” where credible evidence shows a violation of the law.

About Waterkeeper Alliance
Waterkeeper Alliance unites more than 300 Waterkeeper Organizations and Affiliates around the world, focusing citizen advocacy on issues that affect our waterways, from pollution to climate change. The Waterkeeper movement patrols and protects more than 2.4 million square miles of rivers, streams and coastlines on 6 continents. For more information please visit: www.waterkeeper.org.

About Cape Fear River Watch
Cape Fear River Watch was founded in 1993 and began as a nonprofit organization, open to everyone, dedicated to the improvement and preservation of the health, beauty, cleanliness, and heritage of the Cape Fear River Basin. CFRW’s mission is to “protect and improve the water quality of the Lower Cape Fear River Basin through education, advocacy and action.” CFRW supports the work of the Cape Fear Riverkeeper and is a member of the Waterkeeper Alliance. www.capefearriverwatch.org

About North Carolina Environmental Justice Network
NCEJN’s mission is to promote health and environmental equality for all people of North Carolina through community action for clean industry, safe work places and fair access to all human and natural resources. NCEJN seeks to accomplish these goals through organizing, advocacy, research, and education based on principles of economic equity and democracy for all people. www.ncejn.org

Register Now: 18th Annual EJ Summit on October 21-22, 2016

Please join us for NCEJN’s 18th Annual EJ Summit on October 21-22, 2016 in Whitakers, NC!

You can find more information about the agenda and how to register under the EJ Summit tab on our website.

We are accepting award nominations for the following awards until Oct. 14:

  1. Steve Wing International Environmental Justice Award – Award for a person who has used their scholarship and activism to fight for environmental justice.
  2. NCEJN Community Resilience Award – Award for a community member who constantly uses activism and organizing in their community to achieve environmental justice.
  3. EJ Youth Vanguard Award – Award for two youth (one of elementary school age and one of middle/high school age) that have shown dedication to environmental justice and have the potential to be EJ leaders in the future.

Submit all nominations to:
NCEJN EJ Summit Coordinators
Email (preferred): ncejsummit@gmail.com
Mail: P.O. Box 68, Rocky Mount, NC 27802

Please circulate this message in your community networks!

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If you want to learn more about what happens at the EJ Summits, check out the History of EJ Summit tab.

At this year’s Summit, we are planning to create a timeline (as a group) that documents the history and stories of the Environmental Justice Movement in North Carolina. To do this, we need your help! Please bring any memories that you have to help tell this story. For example, you could bring pictures, newspaper articles, old t-shirts, etc. We will paste all of these items in sequential order onto pieces of paper on the walls at the Franklinton Center. Looking back will help us move forward. Knowing where we’ve been will guide our path into the future. Bring any materials that you’d like to contribute to the timeline project.

Please email ncejsummit@gmail.com with any questions.

In Conditions of Fresh Water

In Conditions of Fresh Water is a multimedia history project that aims to collect the oral histories of historic black towns and communities in North Carolina and Alabama, specifically the communities of Buckhorn, Perry Hill, White Level, West End (Alamance County), and the town of White Hall, AL (Lowndes County).  The project has four goals:

  1. To record the histories of communities in Alamance and Lowndes Counties through interviews, visual data collection and neighborhood visits.
  2. To understand current environmental conditions in the communities through their histories.
  3. To imagine the future of these communities, using the lessons of history, and the desires of community members.
  4. To create new space, both physical and virtual, for communities to connect to one another.
Visual artist Torkwase Dyson will partner with Danielle Purifoy, a lawyer and Duke University Nicholas School Ph.D candidate studying racialized spaces and environmental inequality in the American South. Dyson and Purifoy will be joined by two community-based collaborators: Omega Wilson, a native of Alamance County, North Carolina and founder of the West End Revitalization Association, and Catherine Flowers, a native of Lowndes County, Alabama, and founder of the Alabama Center for Rural Enterprise.

Sign the Petition: Stop the hog industry from spraying pig waste on our homes

Please consider signing Elsie Herring’s Petition: Stop the hog industry from spraying pig waste on our homes

https://www.change.org/p/tell-the-office-of-civil-rights-to-stop-the-hog-industry-from-spraying-pig-waste-on-our-homes

HogWaste

Excerpt of Petition: “The hog operation next door makes my life miserable. The pork industry down here in North Carolina places profits over my civil rights. I have no choice but to live with spray manure blowing onto my property. There’s an increase in snakes, rats, flies, and mosquitoes. There’s a horrific odor seeping into my house even when the windows are shut as the Health Department has advised.

Please sign my petition telling the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Civil Rights to help stop the civil rights violations here in North Carolina and protect families like mine from exposure to hog waste.

The powerful hog industry should not get away with this poor treatment of people of color and the environment just as those who brushed aside concerns of those in Flint, Michigan should be held accountable for their shameful discrimination and the health and environmental impact that caused…”

(Please click on link above to read and sign the petition.)

Congrats to WERA!

Congratulations to our partner, West End Revitalization Association(WERA), for being recognized with the 2016 Community Award from the NAACP Alamance County Branch’s Annual Freedom Fund Banquet & Silent Auction!

Check out the video on our Facebook group! https://www.facebook.com/ncejnetwork/

Title VI Update: DEQ In Bed With Big Pig

(You may also download a PDF of our press release by clicking here.)

DEQ In Bed With Big Pig
Groups Call on EPA to Move Forward with Investigation and Enforce Civil Rights Act

RALEIGH, N.C. – Community and environmental groups renewed their call today for the federal government to investigate claims that the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) decision to permit thousands of swine facilities without adequate safeguards violated federal law. These calls came after settlement negotiations in their discrimination case broke down on Monday. The community-based and statewide groups say that it became clear to them that the state environmental regulatory agency was not willing to protect vulnerable communities. The negotiations stem from a complaint filed in September 2014 alleging that DEQ’s lax regulation of over 2,000 hog operations has an unjustifiable disproportionate impact on African American, Latino, and Native American communities in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act requires that any recipient of federal funds take steps to ensure that its actions do not have a disproportionate adverse impact on individuals and communities based on race. An analysis conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina showed that the impacts from hog operations under permit conditions set by DEQ, a recipient of federal funds, primarily impacts African American, Latino, and Native American populations. This research was provided to DEQ during the 2014 comment period on the state permit for swine operations, but DEQ rejected the findings without pointing to any contrary research or conducting any analysis of it’s own.

The North Carolina Environmental Justice Network (NCEJN), Rural Empowerment Center for Community Help (REACH), and Waterkeeper Alliance, brought the complaint. They are represented by attorneys at Earthjustice and UNC Center for Civil Rights.

“We are forced to endure the smell, the flies, water and air pollution that impacts our health all because DEQ won’t regulate hog operations in a way that protects our rural communities,” said Devon Hall, Program Manager at REACH, which is located in Duplin County, home to the greatest concentration of swine facilities in the country.

Complainant groups agreed to enter into settlement negotiations with DEQ in an attempt to resolve the matter without the federal government’s intervention. Negotiations were almost derailed as soon as they started when representatives of the National and NC Pork Councils showed up uninvited at the UNC Center for Civil Rights offices, supported by DEQ, and demanding to intrude into discussions. Their presence was intimidating to the community members present, who have experienced retaliation from hog industry supporters for their stance against the industry’s harmful impacts.

Naeema Muhammad, Co-Director of NCEJN, stated: “DEQ has turned a deaf ear to our cries for help for years. The Pork Council’s presence at a mediation session – which was supposed to be known only to DEQ representatives, the complainants and the mediator – crystalizes our concerns about our voices ever being heard. It’s clear that that DEQ won’t do anything that helps North Carolinians without first consulting with trade groups like the Pork Council that represent the interests of foreign owned corporations like Smithfield Foods.”

“I’ve been a civil rights attorney for a long time, and I’ve never seen anything like this. Having the regulated industry barge in – despite our clear opposition but with DEQ’s support – insisting that they have a right to be at the table to resolve a race discrimination case against DEQ could not be more telling or offensive,” said Elizabeth Haddix, attorney at the UNC Center for Civil Rights. “The agency has clearly been captured by the industry. This is the opposite of how government is supposed to work.”

“It’s clear that DEQ’s priorities are bowing to the interests of the industry, which is minimal regulation to maximize profits at the expense of rural communities and people of color,” said Marianne Engleman Lado, attorney with Earthjustice. “It’s time now for EPA to move forward with its investigation. Communities have been crying out for attention for years and it’s high time that someone held DEQ accountable.”

“This is yet another example of DEQ cozy relationship with polluting corporations,” said Gray Jernigan, Raleigh-based Staff Attorney with Waterkeeper Alliance. “They call it ‘customer service,’ but it is a disservice to the citizens that they are entrusted to protect. We are confident that EPA will see the same.”

In a related action, EPA recently proposed new rules that change the way the agency handles complaints of civil rights violations. The proposed revision, however, actually weakens existing protections by removing deadlines for the agency to respond and investigate complaints, among other changes. EPA is accepting comment on the proposed rules until March 14, 2016, and the public is urged to tell EPA not to weaken civil rights protections.

 

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About NCEJN The North Carolina Environmental Justice Network is a statewide, grassroots-led non-profit organization made up of community members and other organizations that work to fight environmental injustice. The EJ Network seeks to promote health and environmental equality for all people of North Carolina through organizing, advocacy, research, and education based on principles of economic equity and democracy for all people. The EJ Network supports the communities that are most impacted by environmental injustice and has worked for nearly two decades to change the fact that industrial swine facilities in North Carolina are allowed to pollute low-income communities and communities of color.

About REACH The Rural Empowerment Association for Community Help strives to improve the quality of life for families and people of color in rural eastern North Carolina. In particular, REACH addresses social, economic and environmental issues though its environmental awareness, sustainable agriculture, small business development, and homeownership programs.

About WATERKEEPER® Alliance Waterkeeper Alliance is a global movement uniting more than 270 Waterkeeper organizations around the world and focusing citizen advocacy in issues that affect our waterways, from pollution to climate change. Waterkeepers patrol and protect more than 2 million square miles of rivers, streams and coastlines in the Americas, Europe, Australia, Asia and Africa. For more information please visit: www.waterkeeper.org

About Earthjustice Earthjustice, the nation’s premier nonprofit environmental law organization, wields the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy and to combat climate change. Because the earth needs a good lawyer.

About UNC Center for Civil Rights Since its founding by Julius L. Chambers (1936-2013) in 2001, the UNC Center for Civil Rights has strived to extend America’s promise of justice, prosperity and opportunity by elevating families and communities above the boundaries of race, class and place. Its mission is to use community-based impact advocacy and legal education and scholarship to advance strategies that secure social, economic and environmental justice for low wealth, minority families and neighborhoods.

 

NCEJN’s Position Statement on Climate Change

At this year’s 2015 EJ Summit, NCEJN held a Climate Justice Conversation with participants of the Summit to help NCEJN develop its position on climate change. This conversation contributed to NCEJN’s Position Statement on Climate Change.

To download and read our position, please go to our “Climate Change” page, which is found under the “Issues” heading or click here.

 

Save the Date: 17th Annual EJ Summit on October 16-17, 2015

Please join us for NCEJN’s 17th Annual EJ Summit on October 16-17, 2015 in Whitakers, NC!

You can find more information about the agenda and how to register under the EJ Summit tab on our website. Please email ncejsummit@gmail.com with any questions.

If you want to learn more about what happens at the EJ Summits, our EJ Summit Report from our 2014 EJ Summit has now been added on our website under the History of EJ Summit tab. Or download the report now: 2014 EJ Summit Report (pdf).

Healthcare & Environmental Justice: Moral Monday

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Rally for Racial and Environmental Justice on Wednesday, May 13, 2015

CAFO Poster Ad Raly May 2015

NCEJN Spotlights CAFO Organizer

During the summer of 2014 the EJ Network recruited a team of dedicated individuals to organize in their communities and inform their neighbors of the environmental and health concerns resulting from exposure to the gases, liquid and solid wastes produced within hog and poultry CAFOs. We are proud of the work our organizers are doing for their communities and our state. Therefore, the EJ Network decided to dedicate a series of blog posts to them and their work. The first of our organizers to be recognized is Anthony “Tony” Hicks of Rocky Point, North Carolina. See the transcript of our interview with Tony below.

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1. How/why did you get into CAFO and/or EJ organizing?

“Through Naeema [Muhammad]. She had contacted someone from my church, and when I found out about what the cause was, I was like ‘wow,’ this is a really good cause!”

2. What work do you do as CAFO organizer?

I go in my community and in Pender County. I introduce myself to people, and I let them know that I’m with the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network. And I ask them how they feel about the CAFOs in the area… the smell [and] the soot.

3. Tell us about the CAFO campaign. What are the main goals? What do you hope will come out of this work?

What I hope to get out of this, and my main goal is, to reach as many people as possible that are being affected by these CAFOs. And to assure them that Reverend Dr. Anthony Hicks wants them to know that they are not alone. Cause a lot of people, and I was shocked, a lot of people did not know that something is being done. [There are] seven (7) CAFOs in a three mile radius, and four (4) big poultry houses. And you ride by these things, oh my God, and the make you want to regurgitate.

4. What communities are you presently working with and what are the issues they’re facing?

No. I want to eventually. I’m new to it [CAFO organizing]. I’ve only been at it 4½ months. And I do see a big need for it.

5. What do you see as the most pressing EJ issues in NC/the South/the U.S. today? What do you think are the major challenges for EJ organizing?

Basically, making people aware. We need to be aware cause the smell, the fumes, the sut, or whatever it is, I believe it’s hazardous to our health. I’m finding out that [when] I’m tearing in my eyes, I thought it was allergies, I’m learning it’s from something else.

6. What have you learned from your work?

I’ve learned that somebody is doing something and there is help available. I also didn’t know it was a violation of civil rights. And I didn’t know that they [the CAFOs owners] were targeting low-income and African American communities.

7. What has been most rewarding about doing this work?

I don’t know how you’ll word it, but seeing people (sigh)[have] relief. Seeing people with an expression of relief. Seeing the expression of “Oh Lord, help is on the way”! I don’t do it for the money. I do it for the cause. I’m fighting for this thing.

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Save the Date: 16th Annual EJ Summit on October 17-18

Please join us for NCEJN’s 16th Annual EJ Summit on October 17-18, 2014 in Whitakers, NC!

You can find more information about the agenda and how to register under the EJ Summit tab on our website. Please email ncejsummit@gmail.com with any questions.

NCEJ Summit 2014 Flyer

NCEJN Petitions U.S. EPA to Stop Environmental Injustice in NC

The North Carolina Environmental Justice Network (NCEJN), Rural Empowerment Association for Community Help (REACH), and Waterkeeper Alliance, with the support of Earthjustice, submitted “a complaint against the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for issuing a general permit that allows industrial swine facilities in North Carolina to operate with grossly inadequate and outdated systems of controlling animal waste and little provision for government oversight, which has an unjustified disproportionate impact on the basis of race and national origin against” communities of color in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) implementing regulations.

Read the full complaint here (pdf).

Read the press release here (link).

NCEJN Administrative Co-Director: Deadline Extended to July 22

NCEJN aims to build its power and reach as a statewide resource, and seeks an Administrative Co-Director to implement program expansion and fundraising.

Position Description

The Administrative Co-Director will bring his or her vision to the organization and help NCEJN to strengthen North Carolina’s environmental justice movement.

Serving as NCEJN’s external ‘face’ and internal guide and coach to interns and future staff, the Administrative Co-Director will manage interns, support organizers, consult with the bookkeeper and will report to a volunteer board of directors.

In addition to ensuring the implementation of operations and programming, the Administrative Co-Director will be heavily involved in planning the NCEJ Summit, supervising volunteers for the summit and organizing evaluation of the Summit in collaboration with the NCEJN Organizing Co-Director.

The Administrative Co- Director is responsible for:

Promoting Environmental Health and Justice in North Carolina: This should be a driving passion for the Administrative Co-Director, among whose top goals should be achieving justice for the people of North Carolina.

This is a part-time position, with opportunity to expand to full-time based on performance and fundraising.  NCEJN is an equal-opportunity employer.

The hourly rate for this position is between $20 and $30 per hour depending on experience, through at least the end of 2014.

Application Deadline:          Friday June 20th, 2014   Extended to July 22, 2014

Please contact the chair of the board of the Network with your cover letter, resume and two references at  ncejnetwork@gmail.com.

About NCEJN

NCEJN is a statewide, grassroots led nonprofit organization. Our central goal is to promote health and environmental equality for all people of North Carolina through community action for clean industry, safe work places and fair access to all human and natural resources.  We seek to accomplish these goals through organizing, advocacy, research, and education based on principles of economic equity and democracy for all people. We focus on the communities who are most impacted by environmental injustice, including people from low-income communities and communities of color.  We use community based participatory research, organize communities, engage media, educate elected and appointed government officials, and advocate statewide for practical solutions to achieve environmental justice. In order to be successful, every campaign at NCEJN depends on organizing with the people most affected by environmental injustices.

Job Announcement: EJ Summit Coordinator

North Carolina Environmental Justice Summit Coordinator

The coordinator will provide conference planning support for the 2014 NC Environmental Justice Summit, which will take place at The Franklinton Center in Whittakers, NC October 17-18.

Duties:

  • Attend monthly meetings (4th Thursdays, 5:30-8:30pm) of the NC Environmental Justice Network (NCEJN) Planning Committee;
  • Coordinate six concurrent panel sessions including volunteer note-takers;
  • Plan advanced on-line registration and evaluation surveys;
  • Update NCEJN web site;
  • Prepare program booklet and registration materials;
  • Attend the NC EJ Summit October 17-18, 2014 to assist with registration, evaluation, and documentation;
  • Collect note takers’ reports, photos, and surveys from the Summit.

The coordinator will work closely with Naeema Muhammad, NCEJN Acting Director, and members of the NCEJN Planning Committee.

This position requires 1) great organizational skills, 2) comfort with updating the NCJEN website with Summit news and keeping track of online registration, 3) great interpersonal skills, and 4) a sincere interest in achieving environmental justice and preventing environmental injustice. Experience with conference organizing is desirable.

The position is available for 20 weeks from July 1 – November 10, 2014 for an average of 10 hours/week at $20/hour.

Please send a letter of interest and resume by June 20, 2014, to Naeema Muhammad, Acting Director, NC Environmental Justice Network, naeema1951@gmail.com. Recruitment will continue until the position is filled.

For more information contact Naeema Muhammad, naeema1951@gmail.com (252-314-0703), Steve Wing, steve_wing@unc.edu (919-966-7416) or Courtney Woods, courtney.woods@unc.edu (919-962-4660).

Environmental and Health Justice Moral Monday

Join members of the NCEJN and others interested in a healthy and safe environmental for all at today’s  Environmental and Health Justice Moral Monday on Halifax Mall!

 

Administrative Co-Director at the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network

NCEJN aims to build its power and reach as a statewide resource, and seeks an Administrative Co-Director to implement program expansion and fundraising.

Position Description

The Administrative Co-Director will bring his or her vision to the organization and help NCEJN to strengthen North Carolina’s environmental justice movement.

Serving as NCEJN’s external ‘face’ and internal guide and coach to interns and future staff, the Administrative Co-Director will manage interns, support organizers, consult with the bookkeeper and will report to a volunteer board of directors.

In addition to ensuring the implementation of operations and programming, the Administrative Co-Director will be heavily involved in planning the NCEJ Summit, supervising volunteers for the summit and organizing evaluation of the Summit in collaboration with the NCEJN Organizing Co-Director.

The Administrative Co- Director is responsible for:

Promoting Environmental Health and Justice in North Carolina: This should be a driving passion for the Administrative Co-Director, among whose top goals should be achieving justice for the people of North Carolina.

This is a part-time position, with opportunity to expand to full-time based on performance and fundraising.  NCEJN is an equal-opportunity employer.

The hourly rate for this position is between $20 and $30 per hour depending on experience, through at least the end of 2014.

Application Deadline:          Friday June 20th, 2014   Extended to July 15, 2014

Please contact the chair of the board of the Network with your cover letter, resume and two references at  ncejnetwork@gmail.com.

About NCEJN

NCEJN is a statewide, grassroots led nonprofit organization. Our central goal is to promote health and environmental equality for all people of North Carolina through community action for clean industry, safe work places and fair access to all human and natural resources.  We seek to accomplish these goals through organizing, advocacy, research, and education based on principles of economic equity and democracy for all people. We focus on the communities who are most impacted by environmental injustice, including people from low-income communities and communities of color.  We use community based participatory research, organize communities, engage media, educate elected and appointed government officials, and advocate statewide for practical solutions to achieve environmental justice. In order to be successful, every campaign at NCEJN depends on organizing with the people most affected by environmental injustices.

NCEJN Collaborators Create Publication

Two talented graduate students have been working with NCEJN to expand our statewide outreach. They are taking what they learn from communities and from NCEJN planning committee member Dr. Steve Wing, to tie communities’ experiences with injustice to their academic pursuits. The students, Willie Wright and Pavithra Vasudevan helped produce a publication, The Whirlwind. It contains essays, maps, and poems that explore the connection between race and geography in the United States. One piece in particular challenges those of us working towards environmental justice to think critically about racially motivated violence, the connection to environmental racism, and how it impacts people and environments alike.

Download a copy  here: Whirlwind, Vol1, Issue1

Evaluation of the 2013 NCEJN Summit

The surveys are in and we received very positive feedback on the 2013 EJ Summit!

 

Overall, Summit attendees represented 23 environmental and social advocacy groups, 14 citizen and community groups, 9 colleges and universities (4 out-of-state, 5 in-state),  5 law groups, 2 federal agencies, 1 state agency, and 1 religious group.  A majority of respondents surveyed reported that the sessions increased their understanding of EJ issues and strengthened community members’ relationships with researchers and with government officials.  A majority of respondents also felt that the role of different population-age groups in the EJ movement is necessary for success. Details of the survey results and participant comments can be found here.

 

We would like to extend our full appreciation to all those who were involved in attending, planning, organizing materials, volunteering at the event, and all in all making the 2013 Summit a huge success!

 

Thank you from the staff, board and planning committee of the NCEJN