Lest you think the ongoing conversion of Jordan Lake into a sewer was the only environmental disaster in the works as the result of the 2013 legislative session, check out this sobering statement from N.C. Conservation Network E.D. Brian Buzby:
“A new crowd of extreme lawmakers in Raleigh is betraying North Carolina’s natural heritage and jeopardizing our future. In the blink of an eye – just six short months – many of the legislators at the General Assembly have attempted to rewrite or repeal almost every common sense law and regulation on the books impacting the environment.
From the Outer Banks – to the Piedmont – to the Appalachian Mountains, North Carolina is an outdoors state. But instead of working for constituents to protect our water, air and quality of life that make North Carolina special, many in the General Assembly made extreme decisions to move the state in the wrong direction.
The barrage of short-sighted assaults on public lands and the environment make it clear that our lawmakers are not doing their constitutional duty to protect our state, its natural resources and all that make it special.
The litany of anti-environmental rollbacks approved by the legislature this year include:
- Removing volunteer scientists and environmental experts from key environmental oversight boards, such as the N.C. Environmental Management Commission that sets air and water pollution standards and the N.C. Coastal Resources Commission that sets basic protections for our beaches (S402);
- Delaying once again the long-established plans to clean up Lake Jordan, the drinking water source for more than 300,000 North Carolinians (S515);
- Gutting groundwater quality protections for private property owners by allowing polluters to wait to address groundwater contamination until after it has contaminated a neighbor’s private property (H74);
- Allowing garbage trucks to be leak resistant rather than requiring them to be leak proof. This will allow toxic juice to leak from garbage trucks in neighborhoods all over our state (H74);
- Abolishing the Mountain Resource Commission, a volunteer advisory board that works to take care of western NC’s natural resources (H74);
- Setting deadlines – with no extra resources to meet them – by which state regulators must re-adopt most existing environmental protections or those protections automatically expire. Water quality protections for North Carolina’s rivers, lakes, and beaches face the first set of deadlines (H74); and
- Blocking cities and counties from improving environmental and public health protections until October 2014 except by the unanimous vote of local elected leaders (H74).
And it could have been worse: Proposals to lift the prohibition on issuing fracking permits and repeal the state’s successful Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard law did not pass. Another initiative would have removed protections for many of the state’s wetlands. Despite this last minute positive note, the rollback proposals are eligible for consideration in the 2014 NC legislative session so they will require continued attention.
When elected officials are home between legislative sessions, North Carolina residents should voice their concerns. Make it clear to your local legislators that we want a different choice for the Tar Heel State – one that upholds our state’s tradition of environmental stewardship and that will continue to keep the outdoors a special place for residents, businesses and visitors.”