URGENT – PLEASE CALL TODAY!
May 10, 2017
Ok Riverwatchers – we need you today, right now. The NC Legislature is primed to override Governor Cooper’s veto of House Bill 467. The bill a shameful all-out polluter protection bill, that panders to the factory farm industry at the expense of hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians. We need to you pick up the phone and call your legislators RIGHT NOW and urge them to NOT override the Governor’s veto. The vote has been hastily scheduled for as early as this afternoon so please call now. Below is a summary of the bill and an example of what you might use when talking to your representative. Feel free to supplement with your personal thoughts but be clear with your ask to NOT override the veto. If you are unsure who your elected official is or if you need their phone number click the following link, http://www.ncleg.net/representation/WhoRepresentsMe.aspx, scroll down to “Representation by County,” Use the drop down menu to select your county and your legislators will be listed. Then just call them!
This Bill Protects Polluters Who Are Hurting People
- Hundreds of property owners from southeastern North Carolina sued Smithfield’s Hog Production Division due to the pollution caused by Smithfield’s hogs in southeastern North Carolina. These lawsuits seek compensation from a corporate pork producer making record profits ($1.7 billion in 2016). Local farmers weren’t sued.
- Waste emissions and discharges from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOS) can cause harms to health, lost income, and pain and suffering. This bill eliminates compensation even when these impacts are proven in court in a nuisance suit.
- North Carolina law already protects agricultural operations from frivolous lawsuits. Furthermore, none of the pending lawsuits at issue here have been found to be frivolous or unwarranted; the plaintiffs have survived motions to dismiss.
This Bill is an Attack on Private Property Rights
- This bill would reduce options for North Carolina homeowners to protect themselves when CAFOs unreasonably interfere with their use of their property.
- Nuisance laws have existed for hundreds of years. The basic legal principle is that one should not be allowed to unreasonably interfere with the use or enjoyment of another’s property. This bill would change law which predates the United States by saying, regardless of the nature or degree of such interference, the only harm is to the neighbor’s property value (ignoring any damage a neighbor’s health or quality of life).
This Bill Exacerbates the Disparate Racial and Economic Impacts of Industrial Farming
- Many CAFOs are located in low-income areas or communities of color (hog operations in particular are concentrated in minority communities). 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.
- This bill incentivizes placement of agricultural operations in communities with low property values where liability exposure, because of limited to property value, is lower.
- CAFOs depress the fair market value of private properties nearby. That means by the time a neighbor files a nuisance claim, there’s not much property value damage left to attribute to the nuisance, making it impossible for a court to ‘make the injured party whole’ if the only recovery is that related to diminution in property value.
Tell Your Legislators to sustain Governor Cooper’s veto of H467
To present a consistent and persuasive message, we encourage callers to consider using the following script:
Hello, my name is ______ and I live in ______, North Carolina. I am calling to urge you to vote to sustain Governor Cooper’s veto of H467. You should vote to protect people not polluters. H467 instead defends polluters and deprives their victims of legal rights. The bill would change nuisance laws that have been in existence for hundreds of years, and those changes would primarily harm residents in low-income areas and communities of color in North Carolina. I urge you to stand up for vulnerable North Carolinians, protect their rights, and vote to sustain the veto of H467.
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