“Enviro groups: NC swine farms discriminate against minorities”

Disparate impact by way of location? “Four environmental groups announced a federal complaint Thursday alleging that North Carolina’s hog farms discriminate against ethnic minorities because the stench and pollution from the swine operations disproportionately affect African Americans, Latinos and Native Americans who live nearby.” [Raleigh News & Observer]


  • Why is race such great legal leverage?

  • Why is race such great legal leverage?

    Just a guess or speculation here. It’s a way to smuggle in a cause of action under anti-discrimination law because the plaintiff hasn’t got a viable cause of action under environmental law.

  • White men can’t jump. Guess they can’t smell, either.

  • So the federal government can order a state government agency to pass regulations on something because it unintentionally happens to impact minorities more than non-minorities?

    Perhaps poor minorities would have a hard time convincing the government to work in their interests instead of those of the wealthy farmers, and would have a hard time moving out of the area – but that’s not because they’re minorities. It’s because they’re poor. A poor white person living in the area would have the exact same issues.

    If everyone concedes that the impact on minorities is unintentional, that should be the end of any discrimination complaint. It’s getting ridiculous. “You can’t spend money to repair the highway – minorities drive fewer cars so there’s a disparate impact!” (That’s not hyperbole; that’s an actual example from my area. The government was forced to increase spending on buses to even out the increased spending on the roads.)

  • The obvious solution is to build a bunch of whites-only neighborhoods near the hog farms.

  • “Environmental racism” is a trope that has been around for decades, more often for declining urban neighborhoods near waste dumps and old factories, but sometimes rural. It represents an alternate route to Federal review of decisions by State and local environmental authorities.

    As with airport landing pattern noise, my sympathies partly depend on who was there first– the residents? or the ultra-foul smelling industrial hog farms?

  • It’s the old “coming to the nuisance” issue from 1L property class. But apparently the race baiters need a hook to get out of a state cause of action. The solution: Export hog farming to poor countries…..oh, wait.

  • Bob: Back when getting permits was a significant part of my practice, I had clients with this problem. Investigating the sudden surge in complaints from nearby (and not so nearby) neighborhoods revealed that the force behind the “enviromental justice” group was the landlords and owners of nearby, undeveloped land. I found that this was a common pattern. The farms were in the suburban growth pattern. Force their closure by imposing stringent environmental regulations that made operations unprofitable. Then evict the poor (frequently minority) lessees, and develop upscale subdivisions. My clients sold the family farm at a healthy price, and retired. The Environmental Justice advocates disappeared and the evictions began. Now, if you have lots of money, you can buy a home there and live behind gates.