DURHAM (Oct. 12, 2023) – Southern Coalition for Social Justice condemns the NC General Assembly’s decision to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of an anti-environment bill, House Bill 600. This new law poses a grave threat to the environment, public health, and the rights of vulnerable communities across North Carolina.
The bill, which Cooper vetoed Oct. 2, will significantly roll back environmental protections governing hog waste, dead livestock disposal, stormwater protections and carcinogenic pollutants in the water. It also hands undue power to natural gas pipeline companies and will expedite the Mountain Valley Pipeline Southgate project, compromising the safety and well-being of North Carolina residents.
“The legislature’s giveaways to the swine and natural gas industries at the expense of North Carolina’s most vulnerable residents must stop,” said Anne Harvey, Chief Counsel for Environmental Justice with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice. “The override of HB 600 joins a long and notorious list of harms this gerrymandered legislature has perpetrated on North Carolinians this Session as they used their supermajority to ram through industry favors at the expense of the people they are intended to serve.”
To highlight legislators’ intentional disregard for the safety of North Carolinians, the bill also gives greater leeway to the hog industry by preventing the NC Department of Environmental Quality from stopping hog waste lagoons or swine gas projects on civil rights grounds.
This act is a slap in the face to the thousands of Black and Indigenous North Carolinians, whose lives and homes have been intentionally desecrated by the stench and pollution of these farms. Families in Sampson, Duplin, Bladen, and Robeson Counties have been historically discriminated on the grounds of race, and this law breathes new life into the environmental racism that Black and Indigenous communities have suffered for generations.
SCSJ urges citizens across North Carolina to mobilize and continue to fight for the safety and well-being of their communities and to hold their elected state and local government officials accountable for decisions affecting their health and prosperity.