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PNS Daily Newscast - June 20, 2019 


The Trump administration finalizes a coal-friendly emissions rule for power plants. Also on today's rundown: A new development in the debate over the 2020 Census citizenship question; and why "Juneteenth" is an encore celebration in Florida and other states.

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Report: NC Agribusiness Places Heavy Load on Water Quality

Storage ponds such as this one in the Lower Neuse basin contain agricultural waste, and environmental groups are concerned about the amount of waste seeping into area waterways and groundwater. (Graves)
Storage ponds such as this one in the Lower Neuse basin contain agricultural waste, and environmental groups are concerned about the amount of waste seeping into area waterways and groundwater. (Graves)
July 14, 2016

NEW BERN, N.C. — The agriculture industry is one of the top contributors to the economy in North Carolina, but according to a new
Graves and other environmental groups are calling both on the industry to support food-production systems that will not harm water quality and on state government agencies to enforce the Clean Water Act.

A statement from Smithfield Foods - one of the companies named in the report - called the Environment North Carolina report a "political attack" and said their company has been limiting the application of manure to crops for the past 20 years.

One problem in North Carolina, said Graves, is the fact that state regulators allow a large majority of agricultural farms to apply for general permitting instead of permitting under the Clean Water Act, which requires more stringent practices in the handling of waste.

"It's been a gift to the industry, really, as far as saving them the cost and the type of environmental work that would be involved in having them all obtain a Clean Water Act permit,” Graves said. "So this general permit assumes, inexplicably, that all the pollution from these farms is contained on the farm. "

In 1995 and 2009, a series of fish kills on the Neuse River claimed more than 1 billion fish. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, agriculture is the probable cause of more than 145,000 miles of rivers and streams, 1 million acres of lakes and reservoirs, and 3,000 square miles of bays and estuaries becoming too polluted for recreation, wildlife and drinking water.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC