News and Observer Op-ed: Bill Would Weaken Neighbors' Ability to Be Compensated in Hog Farm Lawsuits

by Sidney Shapiro | April 05, 2017

This op-ed originally ran in the Raleigh News & Observer.

The civil justice system in North Carolina exists to protect people and their property from unreasonable actions by others. One of the longest standing causes of action in civil courts is for nuisance claims, which allow you to bring suit when your neighbor creates a condition on their property that interferes with your ability to use and enjoy your property, such as excessive noise, poorly stored garbage that might attract vermin or foul odors.

Yet, House Bill 467, which is being fast-tracked through the legislature, would prevent hundreds of rural landowners from recovering more than token damages even if a court were to decide that the corporations responsible for factory farming have committed just such a nuisance.

Nuisance suits are already limited to addressing conditions that are unreasonable for the area where they occur. They also protect pre-existing businesses, such as farms, from suits by people who "come to the nuisance" and then take issue with their surroundings. In rural agricultural areas, some noise, dust and smells are expected and reasonable; our state's Right to Farm Act adds additional protections for farmers from being sued over such typical agricultural impacts on neighbors. So why eliminate damages for landowners that prove a nuisance which does not involve a typical agriculture impact?

The timing of HB 467 is suspicious because it would affect a nuisance lawsuit already filed by hundreds ...

Falling Behind: The Effort to Reduce Pollution from Industrial Animal Farms in Maryland is Lagging

by Anne Havemann | November 20, 2013
Maryland’s effort to limit pollution from massive industrial animal farms in the state is falling behind. A new CPR Issue Alert finds that the state has not registered 26 percent of Maryland’s concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and Maryland animal feeding operations (MAFOs), missing out on tens of thousands of pounds of pollution reduction in the Chesapeake Bay. The Chesapeake Bay is in trouble. Years of half-hearted interstate efforts to check polluting emissions and restore the nation's largest estuary have ...

A Warning about Water Quality Trading in the Chesapeake

by Matthew Freeman | May 25, 2012
This Memorial Day weekend, boaters, swimmers, fishers and others will flock to the Chesapeake Bay to mark the traditional, if not quite calendrically accurate, beginning of summer.  They'll bring their wallets with them, of course, thus supporting businesses and and jobs up and down the Bay. After a day in, on or near the water, many of them will tuck into a meal of crabcakes, made from blue crabs harvested in the Bay. Recreation and commerce are two of the ...

CAFOs, Circularity and Certainty in the CWA: Fifth Circuit's Decision in National Pork Producers Council v. EPA Raises Problems

by Robert Adler | March 18, 2011
A decision issued on March 15 by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit vacated portions of EPA’s Clean Water Act (CWA) regulations, issued most recently in 2008, governing water pollution from concentrated animal feeding operations, or “CAFOs”. In National Pork Producers Council, et al. v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, the Fifth Circuit panel vacated those portions of EPA’s rule that required CAFOs to apply for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits based ...

Update on Maryland's CAFO NPDES Permitting Program

by Yee Huang | August 11, 2010
In June, I wrote about a settlement between EPA and environmental groups that requires EPA to publish guidance on the implementation of National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and to propose a rule to collect more information on these operations. In that post, I cited numbers from EPA showing that states in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed had many CAFOs without NPDES permits; for some of the states, not a single CAFO was permitted. ...

Spotlight on CAFOs: EPA Settlement Requires More Info on CAFOs

by Yee Huang | June 03, 2010
EPA and a coalition of environmental groups recently settled ongoing litigation related to the regulation of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). The litigation dates back to 2003, when EPA finally proposed comprehensive regulation of CAFOs, and it centers on what actually constitutes a CAFO. The original Clean Water Act labeled CAFOs as point sources that require a permit to discharge pollution into water, but EPA dragged its feet not just on regulating CAFOs, but on deciding what was and wasn’t a CAFO. In ...

EPA's Proposed Rulemaking on Runoff and CAFOs Good News for the Chesapeake Bay

by Rena Steinzor | January 13, 2010
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced Monday that the agency will propose new rules to reduce pollution from runoff from urban and suburban areas and from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). This announcement goes far in demonstrating that the EPA under President Obama is serious about its commitments to improve the quality of the nation’s waters, especially those waters that continue to be plagued by pollution from nonpoint and other unregulated sources. The new rules would apply nationwide, but Administrator Jackson ...

The Poop on Manure in the Water: We're Sick of It

by Shana Campbell Jones | September 18, 2009
Today’s New York Times article about excess manure in the water is a stark reminder of what can happen when an environmental problem isn’t addressed: people get really sick. While the article is shocking -- it describes how families in Wisconsin living close to dairy farms suffered from chronic diarrhea, stomach problems, and severe ear infections from parasites and bacteria that seeped into the drinking water -- it restates what a lot of people have known for a long time. ...

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