This morning’s NC League of Conservation Voters news update contains a link to a very helpful and informative blog post on environmental policy by a former DENR official, who’s now out on her own. The post is entitled “Environmental Policy in N.C. : Looking back at 2013 and forward to 2014.”
The League’s update also provides this very troubling news (especially in light of the water pollution disaster in West Virginia in recent days):
“Administrative Watch: Clean Water on the Line
Every meaningful state protection for clean water in North Carolina will be at grave risk of being cut back or eliminated in the rules review process starting this week in Raleigh. At a hearing opening at 10 a.m. this Thursday, January 16, the powerful state Rules Review Commission (RRC) will outline its plan for sifting the “necessary” protections out of the wide body of state laws on water quality.
Anything deemed ‘unnecessary’ will be dumped. Everything categorized as ‘necessary’ and of ‘significant public interest’ will be kicked into an immediate high-stakes mass review process, through which it can be re-adopted, weakened, or killed. All of our state’s environmental protections will face this gauntlet over the next few years. Last year’s General Assembly session dictated that all clean water and wetland rules would have to go first–to live or die (along with our state’s waters they protect) this year.
The special interests and polluters who have chafed for years at constraints adopted under more environmentally conscientious North Carolina leaders are gleeful now at the prospect of shaking the regulators thoroughly off their bulldozers and drainpipes. North Carolina’s painstakingly crafted state wetlands conservation rules are number one on the hit list.
As the RRC adopts its procedural rules, the state Environmental Management Commission (EMC) is preparing its own review of 375 surface water and wetland rules that the Division of Water Resources says will need to go through the review and re-adoption process.
This is a process that North Carolina citizens and conservation advocates cannot afford to overlook. It will be critical to raise public voices in support of clean drinking water, fishing and wildlife resources, swimming and other recreational uses. By and large, the general public has no idea how much they take for granted in this area will be under attack and at severe risk this year. It will be up to the citizen environmental quality movement to let them know, before it is too late to save our waters.”