On July 1, the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality issued a general permit for biogas digesters that convert animal waste into methane for energy production, as required by the N.C. 2021 Farm Act.
The permit restricts public input and maintains lagoon-and-sprayfield hog waste management systems that environmental advocates say are outdated and harm air and water quality. Public interest groups also criticized the system for negatively impacting the health of nearby communities– many Black, Indigenous and Latino neighbors have disproportionately suffered from this pollution for decades.
Regulations on biogas digesters are limited by existing state laws, and violations are mainly reported by the facility’s own self-monitoring.
Under the new permit, enforcement of these regulations is at the discretion of the state agency and in some cases, farms have 60 days to fix a violation, long after the harm is done. — By Ridge Graham