We’re Hiring!

Job Announcement: NCEJN Communications Fellow

North Carolina Environmental Justice Network (NCEJN) is seeking a one-year communications fellow position to start this year, for their North Carolina office. This position comes with a unique opportunity to benefit from training and mentoring from Resource Media, a national communications agency that exclusively specializes in social change. The position has a potential to extend beyond one year, contingent on fundraising opportunities.

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 equality for all people of North Carolina through community action for clean industry, safe workplaces 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 political equity.

Our ideal candidate is a collaborative self-starter, with first-hand experience working with digital and social media tools. We are looking for someone with a strong interest in political, social and environmental issues, and how they are influenced by digital and earned media. This position offers a clear path to advance their career in communications.

NCEJN values an equitable and inclusive workplace. We are an equal opportunity employer with a deep and proven commitment to engaging the skills and leadership of people of color, LGBTQ persons, and other individuals from diverse backgrounds. People from these and other historically marginalized backgrounds are encouraged to apply.

Job Responsibilities

An ideal communications fellow would be a multi-tasking, creative problem solver. Your job is to execute work that helps organize, educate, inspire and mobilize, all while carefully stewarding our limited resources. We are looking for someone with a strong interests in social change and environmental justice with great communications instincts; we are willing to mentor the right candidate. The communications fellow will have the following responsibilities:

Communications Strategy

  • Help execute internal communications and campaign plans for NCEJN, including base-building and awareness-generating educational campaigns, advocacy for stronger local policies and civil engagement and involvement by impacted community members.  
  • Research media stories and social media activity and analyze based on audiences, markets, messages, spokespeople, etc.
  • Track and evaluate media values and social media activity, pulling out the most relevant information in reports for clients
  • Assist team members with quality control for materials and deliverables for presentations and meetings, including handouts, slide decks, graphics, reports, etc.

Event Planning & Execution

  • Help plan and manage event logistics for small and large-scale events (such as the EJ Summit), including signage, communication to and recognition of attendees, documenting through social media, photography and/or video, print materials, etc.

Media Relations

  • Use an online reporter database and release distribution service to create media lists and send and track press campaigns
  • Feel comfortable reaching out to reporters, conducting media outreach and creating new relationships with journalists through a wide range of tools, including pitches, media advisories, news releases, op-eds, and social media
  • Staff media events to support event logistics and serve as social media arm

Digital Media

  • At the direction of management, find and manage vendors and volunteers for website editing and maintenance, graphic design, SEO, etc.
  • Advise team on social and digital strategy, leveraging a variety of tools including paid and promoted budgets, influencers, content channels, online calls to action and online media placements
  • Help conceive of and produce content for digital media, including social videos, memes, slideshows, story maps, web, newsletter and social media copy and online calls to action (petitions, direct email, social shares, etc.)
  • Manage, track and/or start social media accounts including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and hashtags for research on issue areas and communities
  • Help edit and maintain NCEJN’s website and other communications channels, including email newsletter, social media and blog.

Relationship and Project Management

  • Build relationships and trust with members and team members and represent NCEJN at events and in meetings
  • Facilitate regular and fluid internal communications between your manager, mentor and other team members to reduce delays and misunderstanding
  • Support the business side of work, by adhering to timelines, quality and style standards in order to deliver outstanding results.

Required Qualifications

  • Ability to work in many different environments and locations, including satellite offices, on-site, in the field and co-working spaces with various partners.
  • A starting background (at least two years experience) in communications or public relations, in-the-field community work or academic study.
  • Fluency in digital media platforms and strategy, from email to Instagram.
  • Basic understanding of public policy and the role of communications in building support for social change.
  • A commitment to social and racial equity and justice with experience executing those values through your work.
  • Curiosity and creativity, and a willingness to try things out, listen, learn and continually grow and improve.
  • Excellent writing skills for both the news media and digital media.
  • Excellent working knowledge of MS Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

Desired Qualifications

  • Experience in a complementary field, such organizing and community outreach, advertising and other creative fields, event management or public affairs.
  • Visual storytelling technical skills and background, such as graphic design, video production.
  • Experience with multicultural communications, ethnic media and second-language proficiency.

Salary, benefits:

NCEJN offers health benefits for all its employees, which would be available to the fellow during their time of employment. This position offers a salary of $35-40k, dependent on experience.

This position also comes with an intensive professional development and mentoring program, as well as a potential to extend beyond one year, contingent on fundraising potential.

This position assumes 30 hours/week, with minimal out-of-state travel.

Application deadline:

For consideration, please submit a cover letter, CV, and 3 references to Ayo Wilson at ncejnetwork@gmail.com by Tuesday July 31, close of business EST.

 

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“Rise Up! Roadshow” in Nash County, NC! Join Us!

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With Groundbreaking Title VI Settlement Signed, NC Environmental Justice Organizations Vow to Continue Their Fight

 

RALEIGH, NC, May 3, 2018 — North Carolina environmental justice groups announced today that they reached a settlement agreement with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) of a 2014 Title VI complaint filed with the Environmental Protection Agency. The complaint, filed by the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network (NCEJN), Rural Empowerment Association for Community Help (REACH), and Waterkeeper Alliance, alleged that DEQ allowed industrial swine facilities to operate with “grossly inadequate and outdated systems of controlling animal waste” resulting in an “unjustified disproportionate impact on the basis of race and national origin against African Americans, Latinos and Native Americans.”

Under the Agreement, which was reached after an intensive 13-month long mediation, DEQ commits to new policies to ensure compliance with federal civil rights laws, including a language access program and the development of an Environmental Justice (EJ) tool to examine demographic, health, and environmental characteristics of communities impacted by DEQ policies. In addition, DEQ agreed to a number of changes in the draft of the swine general permit that will be considered in the upcoming stakeholder process for the next swine general permit. Naeema Muhammed, Organizing Co-Director of the NCEJN, recognized the groundbreaking nature of the settlement, but also cautioned “At the same time, the harmful effects of the hog industry on communities in eastern North Carolina continue, and all of us involved in this struggle need to keep the pressure on. There is still a long way to go to address the harms caused by the swine industry.” “While these changes may seem technical,” added Will Hendrick of Waterkeeper Alliance, “they will begin to address air and water pollution from the swine industry.”

“For too long people living in Duplin, Sampson and other counties in the heart of hog country have had trouble breathing when they go outside,” said Devon Hall, the Co-Founder and Program Manager of REACH. “Even small changes in the permit can be important, like making clear that DEQ has authority to inspect without prior notice. It’s unacceptable that DEQ has been giving facilities advance notice before conducting an inspection, which means that the operation can just change what it has been doing and clean up before the inspector arrives.”

Hall also emphasized the importance of provisions in the settlement agreement calling for community involvement in water and air monitoring. “People who live here can walk outside, smell the problem, and see the waste running into nearby ditches and streams,” said Hall. “But we want to help document the impacts of the CAFO industry on our community. With thousands of swine operations across eastern North Carolina, the provisions in this agreement calling for monitoring may feel like a drop in the bucket, but they are a good start.”

“For too many years, the `lagoon (or cesspool) and sprayfield’ system of waste management has allowed feces and urine to blow through the air and flow from the sprayfields into our waterways and into nearby communities,” said Larry Baldwin, the Crystal Coast Waterkeeper. “There’s still a long way to go but our groups will continue the work needed. The provisions in this agreement are a step in the right direction and provide more opportunities for people in eastern North Carolina to have a voice in decisions affecting their future.”

Will Hendrick stated, “DEQ has the responsibility to ensure that these facilities operate in a way that prevents negative impacts on their neighbors. Terms proposed for the general permit stakeholder process are a start, but DEQ needs to go further in the future to protect communities. Mandatory groundwater monitoring is needed, for example, to ensure protection of vital resources.”

“Most importantly, we believe that this agreement signifies a new dynamic in the relationship between DEQ and the communities of color that are most severely impacted by the policies and decisions it makes,” noted Ms. Muhammad. “As a result of the process we have engaged with DEQ over the last three years, the needs and priorities of those communities will be at the forefront of DEQ’s considerations going forward.”

REACH, NCEJN, and Waterkeeper Alliance are committed to continuing to hold DEQ accountable—to the settlement agreement, and to DEQ’s broader mission of serving the people of North Carolina and protecting the state’s environment. The groups are represented by Earthjustice, the Yale Law School Environmental Justice Clinic, and the Julius L. Chambers Center for Civil Rights.

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About the Groups

REACH works to improve the quality of life for families and people of color in rural eastern North Carolina. REACH addresses social, economic and environmental issues though its environmental awareness, sustainable agriculture, small business development, and homeownership programs.

The North Carolina Environmental Justice Network’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.

Waterkeeper Alliance is a global movement uniting more than 300 Waterkeeper Organizations and Affiliates that are on the frontlines of the global water crisis. Waterkeeper Alliance fights for every community’s right to drinkable, fishable, swimmable water, employing citizen advocacy on issues that affect our waterways, from pollution to climate change.

 

Earthjustice, the nation’s original and largest nonprofit environmental law organization, wields the power of law and the strength of partnership to advance the promise of a healthy world for all people, protect magnificent natural spaces and wildlife, and fight against climate change.

The Yale Law School Environmental Justice Clinic seeks to serve the environmental justice movement by advancing and enforcing civil rights in the environmental justice context and employing interdisciplinary tools to build legal, administrative, and scientific capacity in support of community-based advocacy. The Clinic draws students from Yale Law School, the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and the School of Public Health

The Julius L. Chambers Center for Civil Rights is a new non-profit dedicated to providing low-wealth North Carolina communities with sound legal representation in their efforts to dismantle structural racism, using a unique community-lawyering model to address the inequities they see every day.

“Why Is China Treating North Carolina Like the Developing World?”

“What’s happening in eastern North Carolina is that poor people are literally getting s— on.”  — Naeema Muhammad, NCEJN Organizing Co-Director

Rolling Stone‘s article, ‘Why Is China Treating North Carolina Like the Developing World?’ discusses how increased deregulation by U.S. legislators makes it affordable for China to outsource pork production overseas while leaving behind a whole host of human and environmental suffering and costs.  Click HERE to read the whole article.

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Urgent! Open Comment on Minority Voting Access Friday, Feb. 2 in Raleigh!

On February 2, 2018 in Raleigh, the “US Commission on Civil Rights will hold a public briefing as part of its ongoing assessment of federal enforcement of the Voting Rights Act (VRA)… Testimony from this briefing will form an integral basis for our 2018 report to Congress, the President, and the American people regarding the state of voting rights across the nation.” There will be many expert panelists, including Rev. Dr. William Barber II of Repairers of the Breach, Anita Earls, former ED of Southern Coalition for Social Justice, and John Merrill, Alabama’s Secretary of State and ardent supporter of former US Senate candidate Roy Moore.

It will be held at Marriott Crabtree Raleigh Durham, 4500 Marriott Drive, Raleigh 27612, 9AM-4:30PM, followed by an open public comment period 6PM-8PM. The event will be live streamed. For more information about signing up to comment, RSVP to attend, live stream access, submitting additional materials for consideration, seeing the schedule, and reviewing the lists of expert panelists, click HERE.

 

Environmental Groups Reach Settlement with State Regarding Response to Citizen Complaints

RALEIGH, NC – In late December 2017, Waterkeeper Alliance, Cape Fear River Watch and the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network (NCEJN), represented by the Elizabeth Haddix and Mark Dorosin of the Julius L. Chambers for Civil Rights, reached a settlement with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) that they hope will ensure prompt, transparent action by the agency in response to citizen complaints about animal agriculture operations.

Each year, over 2,000 concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) with the 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 and sprayed onto adjacent fields. 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, petitioners captured time-stamped and geo-located images of operators spraying waste more than 4 hours after a flood watch. They reported that illegal activity to NCDEQ, but saw no response. The agency’s investigation, and its enforcement of rules prohibiting such spraying, was particularly urgent because pollution from swine CAFOs in Eastern North Carolina disproportionately impacts communities of color. After weeks of apparent agency inaction, in December 2016 the groups filed a challenge in the NC Office of Administrative Hearings.

As a result of the settlement, NCDEQ agreed to adopt a new complaint response protocol to ensure prompt investigation of citizen complaints. The protocol includes timelines for complaint investigation, requires agency investigators to consider all information submitted by complainants, articulates steps for the documentation of complaint response efforts by agency staff, and clarifies that such records should be made public upon request. In addition, NCDEQ agreed to maintain, and update monthly, an online list of complaints for which a determination of violation has been made, so that citizens can track the outcome of their interaction with the agency. DEQ also agreed to publish an annual report denoting the number of complaints received about animal operations, number of complaints investigated, and number of complaints where a violation was found.

“African American, Latino, and Native American communities disproportionately bear the burden of living near industrial hog operations in Eastern North Carolina. This settlement is an important step toward easing that burden,” said NCEJN co-director Naeema Muhammad.

“We’re pleased that NCDEQ is prioritizing people over polluters and committing to promptly respond to citizen complaints,” said Kemp Burdette, the Cape Fear Riverkeeper. “Since 2010, the legislature slashed the budget of NCDEQ’s regional offices, where complaint investigators work, by 40%. It’s important that NCDEQ recognizes the value of third-party evidence collection to supplement the agency’s limited resources.”

The settlement comes amid a flurry of activity regarding pollution from animal agriculture. NCDEQ drew criticism from EPA this year for failing to mitigate the disproportionate racial impact of its swine permitting program. Just this summer, the NC legislature eliminated property rights for victims of nuisance caused by hog operations. Also, for the first time since 2006, NCDEQ is revising the rules that govern animal waste management and certain proposed amendments drew objection from Waterkeeper Alliance and many other environmental groups.

“At a time when our legislature is failing communities and devaluing our natural resources, it is even more important that NCDEQ enforces and improves laws and regulations governing animal waste,” said Will Hendrick, staff attorney for Waterkeeper Alliance.

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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 the 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

 

About Waterkeeper Alliance

Waterkeeper Alliance is a global movement uniting more than 300 Waterkeeper Organizations and Affiliates around the world, focusing citizen action on issues that affect our waterways, from pollution to climate change. Waterkeepers patrol and protect over 2.5 million square miles of rivers, lakes and coastlines in the Americas, Europe, Australia, Asia, and Africa. For more information please visit: www.waterkeeper.org

The Good Fight Continues

Dear NC EJ Network Family,

We hope this letter finds you well, and enjoying the holiday season!

Thank you for your ongoing commitment to the NC Environmental Justice Network. This year was full of seemingly endless battles for justice, and we appreciate you sticking with us through it all—whether you donated, volunteered, or stood with us at the General Assembly.

Because of your support, on March 29th, we were able to mobilize scores of people from Eastern NC to testify against HB 467, which restricts damages allowed for nuisance lawsuits against Big Ag. While we did not ultimately defeat the bill, we were successful in forcing the legislature to change the language such that the restrictions did not apply retroactively—which was intended to cripple ongoing litigation against the hog industry.

Your assistance also helped us to defeat another monster bill—HB 576 (aka the “garbage juice bill”), also sponsored by Rep. Jimmy Dixon, which would have approved yet another bogus technology (remember the “solar bees?”) that sprays wastewater from landfills into the air, allegedly to save landfill operators the cost of wastewater treatment—they’d rather poison communities instead. Many of you joined us in petitioning Governor Cooper to veto the bill, which he did on June 30th.

There was one bill introduced this year that we do support, and it’s a result of years of your support.

On October 23rd, after two visits with EJ Network members in Eastern North Carolina and learning about our decades-long advocacy against the hog industry, U.S. Senator Corey Booker announced The Environmental Justice Act of 2017, which extends former President Clinton’s 1994 Environmental Justice Executive Order 12898 to require federal agencies to address environmental justice through actions and permitting decisions, including considerations of cumulative environmental impacts, and empowering communities with concrete legal tools to fight government neglect in environmental protection.

Finally, thanks to your generous donations and hours of volunteering, we hosted our biggest Environmental Justice Summit ever. We welcomed 185 community members, organizers, scholars, lawyers, and government officials to this year’s convening on “Building People’s Power Against State Violence Through the Lens of Environmental Justice.” People were so committed to joining us that some even pitched tents and camped outside the Franklinton Center at Bricks when we ran out of lodging!

Thank you for your dedicating your time, energy, and brilliance to our Summit workshops on grassroots resistance, the school-to-prison pipeline, to our research session, and to our government listening panel.

Special thanks to our incredible volunteer Summit coordinators—Adrien Wilkie, Dezma Lyons, Sarah Rhodes, and Danielle Gartner—who went above and beyond their duties to ensure the program ran smoothly.

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These are just a few reasons to celebrate with us this year, in the midst of innumerable challenges in our state and broader nation. And these are also reasons we hope you will continue to stand with us in 2018—our 20th year!

With your support we will continue our battle against predatory bills and other efforts to further strip away our right to a clean and healthy environment. We will convene for what we hope will be our biggest Summit to date—celebrating 20 years in struggle and planning for 20 more. We will continue to honor the legacies of the EJ warriors in whose footsteps we walk, like Steve Wing, Cynthia Brown, and Marilyn Snipes.

Can we count you in? If so, please make a tax-deductible donation to the NC EJ Network by December 31st.

We aim to raise $5,000 by December 31st, and thanks to your contributions on #GivingTuesday, we’re already on our way!
These funds will pay for our quarterly meetings in impacted communities, scholarships for our 20th Anniversary Summit, resources for effective community organizing, and supporting the critical labor of our staff.

You can make donations online or via mail:

NC EJ Network
P.O. Box 68
Rocky Mount, North Carolina 27802

We thank you for your support, and your commitment to environmental justice for all communities.

Happy Holidays!

Sincerely,

NCEJN Board and Staff

Naeema Muhammad    Ayo Wilson         Chandra Taylor      
Danielle Spurlock      Courtney Woods    Peter Gilbert    
Don Cavellini           Danielle Purifoy      Elsie Herring 
Ellis Tatum             Nicholas Woodard   Onté Johnson
Lana Carter

Suggested Contributions:
$15
$25
$55
$100
$120 [pays for 1-day Summit scholarship]
$160 [pays for Full Summit scholarship]
$185 [pays for Full Summit scholarship + lodging at Franklinton Center]
If you want to make a contribution in honor of someone, please indicate in the payment memo online or on your checks.

THANK YOU!

‘Garbage juice’ bill ‘illogical and unethical’

From the NC Environmental Justice Network Staff:

Regarding “NC poised to test what critics call a ‘snowblower blowing garbage juice’ ” (Aug. 12): We at the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network (NCEJN) would like to applaud Gov. Roy Cooper on his veto of HB 576. Little is known of the potential effects of spraying leachate, or “garbage juice,” into the air. We do know, however, that leachate contains harmful bacteria, viruses and toxins that are calamitous to human populations. This is an illogical bill that would force the Department of Environmental Quality to allow the use of this mechanism at municipal landfills without study, research or permit.

We at NCEJN serve the interests of environmental justice communities in North Carolina, several of whom are located around landfills, toxic waste sites and coal ash dumps. Spraying this potentially harmful material that could drift over nearby homes, businesses, schools and churches is not only nonsensical, it’s totally unethical. We strongly urge our elected officials to require further research before approving of any technology that could be detrimental to public health and the environment. We implore North Carolina senators and representatives to vote against any attempt to override the governor’s veto. This is a dangerous material and our communities ought to come first.

The text of this letter can also be found HERE on The News & Observer website.

Bryce Cracknell: Study ‘garbage juice’ before spraying it

Let’s play a game of “Guess Who?” I am telling you to take a couple of pills that will help with headaches. No, I am not a doctor or a scientist. No, these pills have not been studied or researched. No, I can’t prove that it will help with headaches. No, I don’t know what the side effects may be. Well, do you know who I am?

Yep, the answer is the North Carolina General Assembly. Two weeks ago, our lawmakers passed House Bill 576 that would allow municipal solid waste landfills to spray “garbage juice” or leachate over the landfill without a permit. This process is referred to as “aerosolization” and uses high pressured fans to blast leachate into the air as a way to “treat” the leachate.

There is no state or federal definition for aerosolization. In theory, the water in leachate will evaporate into the air while the harmful components will fall back into the landfill as a liquid. Like the pills in our game, this idea came from someone who is not a scientist, and this “technology” has not been studied.

Leachate is the liquid that seeps through the waste of landfills and is collected. It is currently treated as wastewater, either onsite or at a municipal wastewater treatment plant, as it is known to carry a wide range of toxic materials, bacteria and viruses. Studies have shown that leachate may contain large amounts of volatile perfluoroalkyl sulfonic acids (PFAs), which are linked to cancer, and viruses such as avian influenza, which can survive for several months in landfill leachate.

We know about the really bad stuff found in leachate, but there is a lot we don’t know about aerosolization. For example, we don’t know what actually happens to the liquid particles once they are sprayed into the air. Where do they go?

Some experts estimate that these toxic particles may drift for miles, ultimately landing on nearby homes, schools, churches, businesses, forests, ponds, streams, etc. Furthermore, what role does a humid climate, like our North Carolina summer, play? What role does wind play? If the garbage juice comes into contact with people, will it affect their health and safety? If so, to what extent? Will food start falling from the sky like a page out of “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs?” Probably not, but in reality, we have no idea. There are too many knowledge gaps in regards to the effectiveness of this technology and the safety of its use in the proximity of people and the environment.

Fortunately, Governor Roy Cooper thought about the implications of unleashing an unproven technology on the people of North Carolina and vetoed the bill. “Scientists, not the legislature, should decide whether a patented technology can safely dispose of contaminated liquids from landfills” Cooper wrote in his veto statement.

This bill will go back to the legislature in the upcoming August session, where the General Assembly will likely attempt to override the governor’s veto and turn this bill into law. Please protect the governor’s veto and tell your representatives to vote “No.” Demand that the state conduct thorough research and study the effects of this technology on the health and safety of our environment and human health before approving its use.

Bryce Cracknell is a Duke University student interning with the Southern Environmental Law Center, North Carolina Environmental Justice Network and at North Carolina Conservation Network as part of the Kenan Pathways of Change Program. The text of this letter can also be found HERE on the Fayetteville Observer website. 

INDYWeek’s Hogwashed Part 3

I saw firsthand in North Carolina how corporate interests are disproportionately placing environmental and public health burdens on low-income communities of color that they would never accept in their own neighborhoods. In North Carolina, large corporate pork producers are mistreating small contract farmers and externalizing their costs onto vulnerable communities, polluting the air, water, and soil, and making kids and families sick while reaping large financial rewards.                                                  -U.S. Senator Cory Booker (NJ-D)

 

Before the farmer stormed off, Watson says, he told her, “Just remember, I am a damn Democrat, and you must be just a nigger lover.”

“It said, ‘If you don’t back off this hog situation and if you run any more legislation, you don’t know what you’re talking about. You might find yourself in that Cape Fear River floating facedown.”                -former NC State Rep. Cindy Watson (Duplin, R)

Part 3 discusses ways to make the multibillion-dollar hog industry more sustainable, both for the environment and the state’s rural population, and the political and financial reasons those steps have not been taken.  Read the full story HERE.

INDYWeek’s Hogwashed, Part 2

Over Duplin County…there are at least fifty (hog farms) in a ten-mile radius. Each farm has a minimum of two thousand pigs, most far more. So a lowball estimate would mean one hundred thousand pigs in ten miles. Ten thousand pigs a mile. A 180-pound pig can produce eleven pounds of waste a day. That’s 110,000 pounds of waste per mile per day.

Part 2 looks at the environmental impacts hog farming has had over the last two decades, particularly on waterways such as the Neuse River.  Read the full story HERE.

From IndyWeek-> Hogwashed: An Investigation into NC’s hog industry

When the final chapter is written on these cases (nuisance lawsuits against the hog industry), we’ll see the people being represented are being prostituted for money.       -NC State Rep. Jimmy Dixon (Duplin, R)

“Deep financial ties exist between the bill’s (HB467) backers and the hog industry. Cumulatively, House Republicans who supported HB467 have received more than $272,000 in campaign contributions from the industry throughout their careers…Dixon has received $115,000, including $36,250 from individuals associated with Murphy-Brown and $9,500 from the Pork Council.

This is environmental racism. This is my family land. And I’m sure race played a part when they decided they wanted to develop this area. We’ve been asked many times, ‘Why don’t you just move?’ Move and go where?  I don’t want to move. I never knew my grandfather, but I know he walked on this ground. And his family. It’s my land.  -Elsie Herring, NCEJN Board of Directors Member

Read the complete 1st part of the investigation HERE on IndyWeek.

NC EJ Summit 2017: Building People’s Power Against State Violence Through the Lens of Environmental Justice

NC EJ Summit 2017: Building People’s Power Against State Violence Through the Lens of Environmental Justice

Location: The Franklinton Center at Bricks (Whitakers, NC)

Date: October 20-21, 2017

 

Dear NC EJ Network Family,

Happy Summer! We hope this message finds you well, and keeping cool. We’re so excited to announce that registration is now open for our 19th Annual NC Environmental Justice Summit! As you know, our theme this year is Building People’s Power Against State Violence. This means we’ll be connecting some other social justice challenges, such as the school to prison pipeline to the new and ongoing environmental justice issues impacting our communities in North Carolina and our broader region.

If you are interested in proposing a session for the EJ Summit, please contact our Summit coordinators at ncejsummit@gmail.com by July 10th!

To register for the Summit, please visit our EJ Summit registration page (found under the menu tab marked for the EJ Summit). In the past few years, our Summit has been at capacity, so please register soon and arrange your lodging! Housing at the conference site Franklinton Center at Bricks is reserved first for our scholarship participants, but if you would like to stay there, please be sure to put yourself on the waiting list when you register. Otherwise, we have reserved limited rooms under NCEJN at the Country Inn & Suites in Rocky Mount:
Country Inn & Suites By Carlson, Rocky Mount, NC
672 English Road, Rocky Mount, North Carolina, 27804, US
p: +1 (252) 442-0500  f: +1 (252) 442-0964

Finally, to ensure that as many members from our impacted communities can attend as possible, we ask that if you are able, to please make a donation to our scholarship fund! We exceeded our goal last year, and we’d like to bring even more impacted community members to join than last year. Can you help us reach our goal of $5000 by September 30th?

Please visit our website to send your sponsorship via Paypal (with the memo line: EJ Summit) or mail to NC EJ Network P.O. Box 68 Rocky Mount, North Carolina 27802. Your contribution is tax deductible, and we will acknowledge your sponsorship in our printed program for the NCEJN 2017 Summit.

Thanks for your continued support and look forward to seeing you soon!

All the best,

NCEJN Board and Staff

Naeema Muhammad    Ayo Wilson         Chandra Taylor      
Danielle Spurlock      Courtney Woods    Danielle Purifoy 
Peter Gilbert             Don Cavellini          Ellis Tatum
Elsie Herring         Nicholas Woodard

NC State Legislature’s HB467 = Unhealthy Communities

We decry the NC State Legislature’s override of Governor Cooper’s decision to veto HB 467, which eliminates compensation for our partner communities beyond the fair market value or fair rental value of their homes in nuisance lawsuits against Big-Ag–even in existing lawsuits. 

Concentrated hog operations are not “farms”, as state Representative Jimmy Dixon would have the public to believe. They are multi-acre industries which house thousands of hogs with limited mobility, pump them with antibiotics, and channel their untreated waste into large open ponds. That waste is sprayed onto nearby fields, causing runoff into waterways, and contamination of nearby homes.

In Duplin County, for example, residents report their inability to do basic household activities like hanging laundry, tending gardens, opening windows, or hosting barbecues due to the threat of exposure to hog feces from the spray fields. Their water is contaminated.  Their health is deteriorated via respiratory ailments and infections. Their families are harassed and threatened by local facility operators. 

Rep. Dixon, who has received over $115K in campaign donations from the pork industry, is the perpetrator of “outright lies” about industrial hog operations.

We do agree with Rep. Dixon that our state needs to protect farmers. But most of the real farmers lost their small scale hog farms to industrial hog operations years ago. Some of the real farmers are on the plaintiffs’ side of these nuisance lawsuits.

The hog industry consistently demonstrates an unwillingness to protect them and other neighboring communities.

North Carolina’s future depends on healthy residents and a healthy environment, which requires equity in regulation and industry practices, as well as equity in the adjudication of private grievances against big industries. We will hold accountable any industry or agency that violates those mandates. We expect our laws to do so, too. 

-Don Cavellini, Chairman of the Board, NC Environmental Justice Network                                                                                        Co-Chair, Coalition Against Racism

 

 

Cooper Vetoes HB 467!; Fecal Bateria Proof Found on Homes

“House Bill 467, “AN ACT TO CLARIFY THE REMEDIES AVAILABLE IN PRIVATE NUISANCE ACTIONS AGAINST AGRICULTURAL AND FORESTRY OPERATIONS”

The agriculture and forestry industries are vital to our economy and we should encourage them to thrive.

But nuisance laws can be used to protect property rights and make changes for good. We used nuisance laws to force the Tennessee Valley Authority to stop air pollution from flowing into North Carolina and we won damages to improve air quality.

Special protection for one industry opens the door to weakening our nuisance laws in other areas which can allow real harm to homeowners, the environment and everyday North Carolinians.

Therefore, I veto the bill.”

-Roy Cooper, Governor of the State of North Carolina

HB 467 is a bill that shields polluters and deprives their victims of legal rights. It would change nuisance laws that have been in existence for hundreds of years, and those changes would primarily harm residents in low-income areas and communities of color in NC. HB 467 limits the amount of recoverable compensatory damages to the value of your property should you file a nuisance lawsuit, a property value already reduced from proximity to a hog farm.

“HB467 was like salt being thrown into the wounds of families who have been suffering from the smells and other nuisances coming from industrial hog operations in eastern North Carolina. We’re pleased to see the governor standing up for communities of color, who are particularly affected by this.”

-Naeema Muhammad, NCEJN Organizing Co-Director

Read more details about Cooper’s HB467 Veto and a new court document about evidence of hog fecal bacteria found on neighboring properties HERE!

LinkInTheChain

All victories for the people are made possible by the people! NCEJN and its allies appreciate your support!

NC Environmental Justice Network is a premier grassroots network of communities promoting health and environmental equity, clean industry, safe work places, and fair access to all resources through organizing, advocacy, research and education based on principles of economic and political equity!   You can support us by clicking the DONATE button on this site! Your support is a VICTORY for PEOPLE POWER and JUSTICE!

VIDEO: NC Residents Fight Back Against Hog Pollution

In case you missed it or would like to see it again, HERE is the Democracy Now! interview with Naeema Muhammad, NCEJN Organizing Co-Director and Will Hendrick of Waterkeeper Alliance, discussing HB 467, a bill that shields polluters and deprives their victims of legal rights! HB 467 would change nuisance laws that have been in existence for hundreds of years, and those changes would primarily harm residents in low-income areas and communities of color in NC!

LinkInTheChain

NC Environmental Justice Network is a premier grassroots network of communities promoting health and environmental equity, clean industry, safe work places, and fair access to all resources through organizing, advocacy, research and education based on principles of economic and political equity!   You can support us by clicking the DONATE button on this site! Your support is a VICTORY for PEOPLE POWER and JUSTICE

Naeema Muhammad on Democracy Now, Wednesday May 3!!!

Naeema Muhammad, NCEJN’s Organizing Co-Director, will appear LIVE on Democracy Now!, an independent news service on Wednesday, May 3 with Elizabeth Haddix (UNC Center for Civil Rights) and Will Hendrick (Waterkeeper Alliance), discussing HB467, a bill that shields polluters and deprives their victims of legal rights! HB 467 would change nuisance laws that have been in existence for hundreds of years, and those changes would primarily harm residents in low-income areas and communities of color in NC! Click HERE from 8-9 AM to see/hear the livestream of the interview!

KatyBrownNaeemaElizabethHaddix

NCEJN is a premier grassroots network of communities promoting health and environmental equity, clean industry, safe work places, and fair access to all resources through organizing, advocacy, research and education based on principles of economic and political equity!   You can support us by clicking the DONATE button on this site! Your support is a VICTORY for PEOPLE POWER and JUSTICE!

LinkInTheChain

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

photo-of-spraying-river-road

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.