Sierra Club Defends Citizens’ Rights to Speak Out Against Dirty Projects in North Carolina
May 17, 2011
On May 17, Sierra Club took action to defend citizens’ rights to protect their families from toxic pollution. The Club filed a brief in support of two North Carolina residents, David Hill and Kayne Darrell, who are being sued by Titan America for speaking out against a proposed Portland cement manufacturing plant on the Northeast Cape Fear River.
Titan, through its subsidiary Carolinas Cement, is proposing to build a new plant in Castle Hayne on the site of a cement plant that closed in 1982. The proposed plant would be one of the largest cement plants in the U.S. Hill and Darrell voiced concerns about the plant’s impacts on children and public health at a New Hanover County Commissioner’s meeting more than year ago. Titan has now filed a SLAPP—Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation—lawsuit against them, alleging that Hill and Darrell made false statements about Titan and its proposed cement plant. The lawsuit seeks more than $75,000 in damages. Sierra Club’s brief supports Hill and Darrell’s comments, arguing that statements made by the defendants are consistent with the weight and consensus of scientific evidence. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit on May 16, 2011.
Anti-SLAPP legislation was recently introduced in the North Carolina House of Representatives. SLAPP is a lawsuit intended to censor, intimidate and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense. While the pending legislation will not have an impact on the Titan case, it will prevent North Carolina citizens from being bullied and intimidated through SLAPP lawsuits in the future. House Bill 746, entitled, “An Act to Protect the Constitutional Rights of Citizens To Participate in Government Proceedings”, was introduced in April.
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