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Of Pounds And Piggy Poop

Via Grist, a shame on you to Governor Mike Easley of North Carolina. He got chuckles for giving Barack Obama a well-timed dap in the heady days after the senator clinched the Democratic nomination. But now he's in deep with enviros in his state. David Hamilton and Jordan Treakle report:

Few places in the world have been pooped on more than Eastern North Carolina in the past 20 years. As jobs in textiles and tobacco moved out over the past few decades, the hog industry moved in, bringing with it the source of the poop: 10 million hogs on 2,300 farms, producing about 19 million tons of waste per year. This waste is stored in huge, open pits called lagoons and then sprayed on surrounding fields, which causes the stench to waft for miles around.

Owing to the low water table of the coastal plain, the store and spray method is often affected by flooding, which contaminates the water supply. The lagoons are located disproportionately in low income, African-American communities, where few other jobs are available.

As this flick makes clear, I hope, the transformation of lower income communities of color into such regional sacrifice zones is nothing new. In North Carolina, it's similarly political--a problem of unsustainable agribusiness specifically and land use in general. Such degraded air quality can lead to asthma and learning disabilities, not to mention a profound unpleasantness that, locally, has stopped some small children from having birthday parties.

Birthday parties! Wag of the finger, Easley. You promised to deal with this problem back in 1999. Before you pass the buck to a successor (who's reportedly larded up with contributions from the illustrious hog lobby), I suggest you wake up and smell the piggy poop.

--Dayo Olopade