Citizen Groups Challenge Hog “Biogas” Permit

Citizen groups have filed a legal challenge to the NC Dept. of Environmental Quality (DEQ) issuance of four new “general permits” for hog and other animal waste “biogas” projects.

The challenges were filed July 29 in the NC Office of Administrative Hearings on behalf of the Environmental Justice Community Action Network and the Cape Fear River Watch. The groups argue that the permits perpetuate an outdated open cesspool system of dealing with concentrated animal waste that damages nearby communities with air and water pollution. 

“We think it’s DEQ’s obligation under the law to require whatever cleaner technology is best for a particular hog operation because the scale and size of these hog operations that may apply for the biogas general permit vary significantly,” said Blakely Hildebrand, a senior attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), which filed the legal challenge on behalf of the citizen groups.

“Frontline community members strongly opposed the Farm Act and demanded more from DEQ in issuing this permit, but these community concerns fell on deaf ears. Instead, this permit will add to the already heavy burden that communities of color have borne for decades and continue a long-standing environmental injustice,” said Sherri White-Williamson, co-founder of the Environmental Justice Community Action Network. 

NCLCV reviewed the problematic details of the DEQ’s decision approving the general permits for “biogas” projects last month.

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