People’s Hearing sets community organizing example

Advocacy, CAFOs, Environmental, Neuse River Watershed, Sound Rivers, Water Quality

Posted on September 21st, 2023

A crowd of people attended the People's Hearing in Goldsboro on Sept. 16.

Air pollution, water pollution, illness — the impacts of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) are well-documented. What hasn’t been well-documented is the way to participate in how CAFOs should be regulated.

Last Saturday, the People’s Hearing in Goldsboro was held to provide that information, as well as connect people impacted by CAFOs, gather their testimonials and share resources as to how to participate in the public process of regulating the industry.

“There are currently six CAFO general permits open for public comment, all having to do with how animal waste is managed in our state,” said Neuse Riverkeeper Samantha Krop.

Sam attended the event hosted by Down East Coal Ash Environmental and Social Justice Coalition founder Bobby Jones and emceed by Waterkeeper Alliance’s Larry Baldwin. Other speakers included Sam, Southern Environmental Law Center associate attorney Jasmine Washington, Devon Hall, founder of REACH (Rural Empowerment Association for Community Help), as well as those sharing their testimonial of firsthand experience with industrial animal facilities in eastern North Carolina.

“During the public hearing portion, many people got up to share how CAFOs impact them, including residents of Sampson and Duplin counties who live in the highest-density CAFO counties in the state,” Sam said.

Sam spoke about the nearby White Oak Farms in Wayne County, where she and former Pamlico-Tar Riverkeeper Jill Howell discovered a massive hog waste spill in the summer of 2022, the source of an ongoing investigation into the continuing pollution of Nahunta Swamp today.

The event also set an example for how the state can actively engage people affected by its policies — more than 80 people attended the People’s Hearing, where few attend state-sponsored public hearings, according to Sam.

“Overall, it was a great event and a powerful demonstration to the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality that some focused community organizing goes a long way toward turning folks out to these comment opportunities. We want NCDEQ to take notice and strive to do better with community outreach and transparency around their own comment periods,” Sam said.

Down East Coal Ash Environmental and Social Justice Coalition founder Bobby Jones welcomes participants to the People’s Hearing.

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