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September 9, 1:30PM-5:30PM, Clean Water for NC’s Regional Summit on Impacts of Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Wilson, NC. Advance registration required: register at tinyurl.com/ACPsummit.

Hog farms: call today, YOUR Rep's vote could make a difference

NC should protect the rights of people, not industrial hog farmers

Thanks to YOUR calls and e-mails, on May 5th, Governor Cooper vetoed House Bill 467, the bill that would limit the ability of communities near hog farms to seek compensation for health effects, nuisance odors, loss of income and other impacts. The Governor acknowledged that nuisance laws can be important for protecting private property rights.

The NC House plans to vote today at 3PM on whether to override Governor Cooper’s veto of House Bill 467, the bill that would limit the ability of communities near hog farms to seek compensation for health effects, nuisance odors, loss of income and other impacts. The NC Senate will have a chance to vote, too. It will be a close vote, and a call to YOUR Representative and Senator could make all the difference. Ask them to vote “no” to the resolution to override the veto, and protect people, not industry!

To find the contact info for legislators for your area, go to tinyurl.com/ncreps17 and scroll down to enter your county. Click on the legislator’s name to view their phone number and e-mail address. You can look up how your Representative voted on the original bill here and how your Senator voted here.

Oppose H467

Impacted residents near hog operations lobby in Raleigh last month.

ASK Governor Cooper to VETO House Bill 467, Call 919-814-2000!

House Bill 467 is a terrible injustice to NC residents living near Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) and a frightening precedent for what other industries could do. This bill would hurt residents in NC living near CAFOs that want to sue Smithfield’s Hog Production Division due to the pollution caused by Smithfield’s hogs. Future lawsuits would have a cap on compensation that could be awarded to residents from a corporate pork producer making record profits ($1.7 billion in 2016).

Property Owner Rights: CAFOs produce waste which can contaminate ground water, as well as become a nuisance to residents living nearby who have to live with the stench. This bill eliminates compensation even when these impacts are proven in court. This bill would also reduce options for homeowners to protect themselves when CAFOs unreasonably interfere with their use of their property.

Environmental Justice Issues: Most CAFOs are located in low-income areas or communities of color (e.g., Duplin County, NC). These communities disproportionately suffer from the pollution caused by these operations. By taking away available legal remedies, this bill is especially harmful to these vulnerable populations. CAFOs also impact property values nearby, and threaten drinking water wells.

Special thanks to Christine Ellis of the Winyah Rivers Foundation for information on this harmful bill. 

Drinking Water & Democracy at Stake: Call your NC lawmakers this week to weigh in

This week, lawmakers are beginning to discuss and pass dozens of bills that have been introduced this spring, in order to pass as many as possible before an important deadline on Thursday, April 27. Please call or e-mail your legislators today and weigh in on several key bills with huge implications for NC drinking water, environmental justice, and democracy!

To find the names and phone numbers of the legislators for your area, go to tinyurl.com/ncreps17 and scroll down to enter your county. Click on each legislator’s name to view their phone number and e-mail address.

Ask them to:

(1) OPPOSE House Bill 351 – don’t create incentives to privatize public water supplies. The bill would make it easier for for-profit water companies to buy communities’ water or sewer services, by driving up the price. They could charge the ratepayers to pay themselves back plus a profit! NC should put more funding toward maintaining public drinking water supplies and infrastructure, not facilitate purchase of these essential services by for-profit companies who are less accountable to the public.

(2) OPPOSE House Bill 467 – don’t limit the ability of communities near hog farms to seek compensation for health effects, nuisance odors, loss of income and other impacts. Don’t shield pork producers from being accountable to nearby residents–mostly poor, African-American communities in Eastern NC. (This bill has passed the House already, so please call your Senator).

(3) OPPOSE House Bill 576 – don’t allow spraying of landfill leachate without air permits! There has not been adequate scientific study of whether the aersolization of landfill leachate is safe, and the bill would waive air pollution permits for the process, so we are deeply concerned about this process being approved and used. In videos of the process, it does not appear as self-contained as the proponents have claimed!

(4) SUPPORT House Bill 825 to protect children in schools from lead exposure! The bill requires testing for lead in water supplies in child care facilities and elementary schools. If lead is found above a certain threshold, teachers and parents must be notified and access provided to a safe water supply.

(5) SUPPORT Senate Bill 554 and House Bill 714 – create a committee to study how to establish new voting districts in a non-partisan way to represent all of North Carolina. It’s time to end gerrymandering and come up with a fair system for redistricting.

Thanks for taking action! Check back often for updates and additional recommendations for taking action.

Duke Energy seeks to recover ash cleanup cost from customers!

Ratepayers beware: Coal ash cost should be viewed separately from Duke’s operational expenses.

Public comment needed by April 12!

What can ratepayers and impacted communities do?
Public input is needed as Duke Energy seeks to recover coal ash cleanup cost from the more than 3 million NC costumers who rely on the utility as their sole electricity provider. Delaying the coal ash costs would allow the company to lump coal ash expenses with other operational cost such as, “environmental compliance” in a general rate case that would be held sometime later in the year. Delaying ash cleanup cost could distract from the actual expenses and threatening impacts of coal ash.

The North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) will soon make a decision on Duke Energy’s request to delay a review of coal ash cleanup costs until the next general rate case. Duke Energy must provide a 6 month formal notice before a general rate case is held. At this point, there is not a public hearing or comment period scheduled for Duke Energy’s coal ash cost deferment request.

However, you can email Utilities Commission Chairman Ed Finley and request a public hearing in your area on Duke Energy’s decision to delay coal ash costs for review in a later rate case. Emails should be sent to statements@ncuc.net with “DOCKET NO. E-2, SUB 1103/NO. E-7, SUB 1110” in the subject line by April 12th.

How much is Duke Energy asking from ratepayers at this time?
Duke Energy has not said exactly how much the rate hikes associated with coal ash cleanup would affect customer rates, but has requested to delay $726 million spent in coal ash cleanup expenses until the next general rate case, later in the year.

Pushing cost back for review in a general rate case at a later date by the NCUC is also known as a “deferment.” The NCUC would have to agree on Duke’s request in order to push back coal ash cleanup cost until a general rate case before cleanup cost could be passed on to customers. Duke Energy’s deferment request (Docket No. E-2, Sub 1103 and E-7, Sub 1110).

Duke Energy estimates about $5 billion as its baseline for the cleanup of its unlined coal ash basins in North and South Carolina. As the company spends money on cleanups, it plans to charge those cost to its ratepayers. In its year-end earnings report 2016, Duke Energy says “multiple” North Carolina rate hikes are very likely by 2021. More…