In 2006, NCEJN and a large group of conservation advocates worked to support passage of the Solid Waste Management Act of 2007 (pdf). The legislation was the largest overhaul of solid waste laws in North Carolina in decades. In addition to significant natural resource protections, including buffers between landfills and National Wildlife Refuges, State Parks or State Gamelands, it also included specific provisions that required a permit denial if a landfill would negatively impact a community of color or a low-income community. After the law passed, conservation groups and environmental justice advocates helped defend the law in court when the State of North Carolina was sued over the provisions of the Act. The coalition prevailed at each level of the litigation and communities around the state were able to look to the strong legislative language to support their organizing against improperly vetted landfill proposals.
In June of 2013, another attack on the good legislation was launched and unfortunately, passed out of the Senate and on to the House. Senate Bill 328 drastically reduces environmental protections, including slashing the buffers between landfills and natural resources. The same bill also removes protections for low-income communities and drastically reduces protections for communities of color. In an effort to educate the public, NCEJN used this factsheet (pdf) to present all the EJ harms of SB328. We’re still advocating to prevent passage of the law in the House.
(Click here (pdf) to see the public’s opinion on the passage of SB328, as presented by the Raleigh News & Observer).
As a part of the effort to keep protections in place for wildlife, water quality, low-income communities and communities of color, factsheets were also created to highlight the areas and communities most threatened by the proposed bill.
Hyde County: Solid Waste and EJ
Columbus County: Solid Waste and EJ
Essentially, why is the Solid Waste Management Act of 2007 important?
Natural areas are intrinsically valuable and they bring in revenue for the state.
There is still plenty of space to site landfills in NC without placing them near natural areas.
Provisions protect vulnerable communities comprised of high percentages of people of color and people living below the poverty line.