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Hog industry gets its way…as usual

 The state Senate just voted 42-6 this afternoon to pass its latest smelly little gift to the hog industry.

Two particularly disturbing moments from the debate and vote:

1) When sponsor Sen. Charlie Albertson of Duplin County – in an attempt to demonstrate what an open and honest process preceded the bill's last-minute rush through the Senate – told his fellow senators that the industry had asked him to pass it last summer but that he had told them to wait. He then related that he had been working with the key legislative staff attorney on the matter for months and that the environmental groups have known about the bill since…June 30. Gee thanks, Senator! What could the environmental groups possibly be upset about?

2) Though we've yet to see the official roll call yet, those listening on the Internet were treated to the sound of Senator Kay Hagan seeking recognition from Beverly Perdue to vote "yes." So much for the hope that Hagan might begin to demonstrate some progressive instincts or political courage in her run against the Lid-ster. 

Here's how Joe Rudek, senior scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund described the bill in a press release distributed yesterday afternoon:

The NC Swine Farm Siting Act Amendments (H822), which guts the 13-year-old set back requirements for hog houses, passed out of the Senate Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources Committee today (July 8) and could be rushed to the Senate floor as early as July 9.  This bill would allow hog houses to be re-built in violation of the 1995 Swine Farm Siting Act, without regard for public health risks, if the buildings are damaged by fire, hurricanes or other "Acts of God."  Provisions established in 1995 requiring that neighbors of hog farms agree to variances in the set backs would become meaningless if the General Assembly passes these amendments.

Hog farms grandfathered from the 1995 Siting Act would become de facto permanent sites for hog farms with open air lagoons and sprayfields without any regard to the new Swine Farm Environmental Performance Standards passed in 2007.  The bill is purported to be needed to allow barns to be modified to allow increased room for gestating sows.  While EDF supports better conditions for gestating sows, this bill goes far beyond that objective.

H822 should not be considered this session.
Legislators should table H822 to allow full discussion of the long-term impacts on public health and air and water quality.  The citizens and communities that will be affected by H822 should be given ample time to study the bill and comment on potential impacts.  

H822 would allow farmers to disregard public health risks when rebuilding hog houses. 
Much has been learned about the public health impacts of emissions from hog houses since most of them were built in NC in the mid-1990s.  Ammonia nitrogen and odor emissions, such as those from hog houses, have been shown to represent a public health risk to community members and especially to children in schools in the vicinity of those hog farms. 

H822 would infringe on the rights of neighboring landowners.
Under current law, hog producers must get the approval of their neighbors to rebuild or modify farm structures if they can not meet the legal set back requirements.  H822 would remove that requirement and allow construction or repair without even notifying neighbors.

H822 would allow hog houses to be re-built indefinitely.
H822 would allow hog houses to be re-build indefinitely, with no consideration of options to upgrade to less polluting facilities.  This would have the effect of permanently grandfathering outmoded structures and technology on hog operations.

H822 could increase pollution by allowing farmers to change age classes for herds.
Allowing farmers to change age classes without triggering new permit requirements could increase ammonia, odor  and other pollution from hog operations.  Different hog age classes are grown on dedicated farms, each with distinctive waste signatures.  Changing age classes could have undesirable impacts."

8 Comments


  1. Rob Schofield

    July 9, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    Click here for Senate vote. The six senators with some spine:

    Doug Berger, Janet Cowell, Malcolm Graham, Ellie Kinnaird, Floyd McKissick and Martin Nesbitt.

  2. gregflynn

    July 9, 2008 at 5:26 pm

    This is bad. Both Senate Bill 847 and House Bill 822 started out as “Environmental Technical Corrections 2007”. Senate Bill 847 turned into “Prevent Agricultural Pesticide Exposure”. The House Bill 822 which already passed its third reading got magically turned into “Swine Farm Siting Act Amends.” by the Senate. What happened to the technical corrections? Or the Pesticide changes that should have been paired with House Bill 2460. Why bother with filing and debating any bill if all you have to do is gut one that’s got approval at the last minute?

  3. James

    July 9, 2008 at 7:08 pm

    Have I mentioned lately that the North Carolina Senate sucks?

    Glad to see there were at least six willing to cross Big Pig. Good for Berger, in particular, who usually toes the Basnight line.

  4. James

    July 9, 2008 at 7:10 pm

    Forgot to applaud your comment on Hagan, too. It’s gotten harder and harder to defend against those who label her Liddy Lite.

  5. James

    July 9, 2008 at 7:12 pm

    Please cross post. I wish I could, but I can’t do any better than you have on this sad story.

    Prospects in the House?

  6. DrFrankLives

    July 9, 2008 at 9:57 pm

    REAL DEMOCRATS PLEASE!!!!!!

  7. Rob Schofield

    July 10, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    Sorry for the belated comment and thanks to James for putting this up on Blue NC. I have not heard any definitive word from the House though I think folks are hopeful that House leadership will put up some roadblocks.

  8. gregflynn

    July 11, 2008 at 10:10 am

    H2313 the Moratoria Moratorium

    Another last minute bait and switch. On 7/8/08 an amendment by the Senate to House Bill 2313 Permitting and Building Code Changes added this text:

    Added to G.S. 153A-340 Counties
    “A county may not adopt an ordinance imposing a development moratorium on the sole basis that an existing ordinance is outdated or in need of amendment or that there is a need for a new ordinance.”

    Added to G.S. 160A-381 Cities and Towns
    “A county may not adopt an ordinance imposing a development moratorium on the sole basis that an existing ordinance is outdated or in need of amendment or that there is a need for a new ordinance.”

    Please note that the text for “Cities and Towns” does incorrectly say “county”.

    The county amendment might impact restrictions on hog farms which I suspect is the origin but no doubt the real estate/ builder lobby had a hand. It is on the Senate calendar for Monday.

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