North Carolina Bans New Hog Waste Lagoons, Sets Strict Standards for Future Systems

July 25, 2007


Jane Preyer, 919-881-2912 or 919-740-6727 (cell)
Tanja Vujic, 919-881-2916 or 919-358-0055 (cell)

(Raleigh, NC - July 25, 2007) Environmental Defense today applauded passage of the nation’s first legislation banning construction of open-air hog waste lagoons. The NC Senate’s 48 - 0 vote today makes North Carolina the first state to permanently ban the construction or expansion of lagoon and sprayfield systems, long recognized as a source of water and air pollution. The legislation also establishes strict health and environmental standards for all new waste treatment systems used on hog farms. The NC House approved the bill with a 108 - 0 vote on July 23. North Carolina is the second largest hog producing state in the country.

In addition to banning new lagoons and setting performance standards, the bill provides funds for a voluntary program that will assist farmers in replacing lagoons with cleaner waste treatment systems, a provision designed to speed transition to new systems by making innovative technologies affordable for all hog operations. A recent study released by Environmental Defense documents that the state can add up to $10 billion to its economy and create 7,000 new jobs over the next 20 years by converting to cleaner technologies and creating markets for valuable byproducts.

The legislation also establishes a pilot program to capture methane and generate electricity from existing lagoons, and it would allow lagoons that present an immediate danger to the public to be replaced. Environmental Defense has sharply criticized both provisions for creating potential exceptions to the ban on new lagoons and to the performance standards established in the legislation.

“This legislation represents a critical step toward ridding North Carolina of lagoons once and for all,” said Jane Preyer, director of the North Carolina Office of Environmental Defense. “All the other hog producing states, as well as the federal government, will pay close attention to the strengths of this legislation, as well as its shortcomings. Without a doubt, North Carolina is now clearly on the road that leads to clean hog farming. Certainly, the bill isn’t perfect, but it’s a strong start.”