The lower Cape Fear River region of North Carolina is an historic and natural treasure, and one of its most fervent champions is the Southern Environment Law Center in North Carolina. Louis Bacon and The Orton Foundation proudly support their tireless work to protect the air quality, water quality, and natural resources of the area. In three consecutive posts this week, we showcase the key issues they are addressing specifically.
Titan America has proposed building the country’s fourth largest cement plant near Wilmington, NC. This plant would destroy nearly 1,000 acres of wetlands and would be a major new source of mercury pollution in the Northeast Cape Fear River, endangering and degrading the health of the beaches, rivers, natural resources, and quality of life for the Wilmington community.
Not only has Titan America avoided public disclosure and evaded a comprehensive review of environmental health effects, but the construction of this plant would set a precedent of allowing Titan to bypass laws and ignore environmental regulations.
The Southern Environmental Law Center is fighting to prevent construction of the proposed Titan Plant by using the law to expose environmental and health threats. Through several interrelated lawsuits, SELC has challenged the plant’s state air-quality permits that failed the state’s legal responsibly to protect people from avoidable harm by not requiring the proposed plant to reduce its pollution to the maximum extent possible. They have also filed written legal arguments and responses to briefs filed by Titan America and the state of North Carolina that highlight the excessively high levels of pollution allowed by state regulators and the potential health impacts on Cape Fear area.
An uphill battle remains – both in terms of addressing Titan’s shifting strategies and additional lawsuits, and also because the state itself is stymying citizen access to the court. It is, for instance, seeking to block the SELC’s challenge to the air permit. If this succeeds, the government will try to use it as a precedent in future cases to limit citizen’s ability to challenge the state’s decisions.
We urge our readers to pay attention to this issue. Read more here, and stay tuned for more about the SELC’s work in North Carolina tomorrow.