Environment, News, Special Session

The regulatory reform bill: Imperfect, but it could be worse

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A gold-color 1978 Subaru Brat, a pickup truck that had jump seats in the bed.

Own a high-mileage Subaru Brat? The Regulatory Reform bill would require you to have its tailpipe emissions tested — unless you live in one of 25 exempt counties. (Photo: Pinterest)

The good news about the Regulatory Reform Bill: There are no ominous “studies” about locating wind turbines near military bases, a precursor to a potential kibosh on the renewable energy resource. In fact, there is no mention of renewable energy at all, which means the portfolio standard passed in 2007 is safe — today. Whew.

The so-so news: The bill, co-sponsored by Rep. Chuck McGrady, an environmentally friendly Republican, and Rep. Jimmy Dixon, a not-so-environmentally friendly one, does call for an annual report on the recycling of televisions and computers. However, it doesn’t allow people to dump them in municipal landfills — today. Whew.
The bill language reads:

“The report must include an evaluation of the recycling rates in the State for discarded computer equipment and televisions, a discussion of compliance and enforcement related to the requirements of this Part, and any recommendations for any changes to the system of collection and recycling of discarded computer equipment, televisions, or other electronic devices.”

This is important because the previous regulatory reform bill, which died in June, called for the same study. That could set the stage for a bill in the long session that would allow these electronics to be dumped into public landfills. Yet, TVs and computers are laden with toxic materials. These include lead, mercury, cadmium and chromium — none of which belong in a landfill mingling with banana peels and coffee grounds (which should be composted, anyway) — and possibly leaking into groundwater.

And now the less-than-ideal news: Cars and trucks in 25 counties no longer have to undergo emissions testing: Brunswick, Burke, Caldwell, Carteret, Catwaba, Chatham, Cleveland, Craven, Edgecombe, Granville, Harnett, Henderson, Lenoir, Moore, Nash, Orange, Pitt, Robeson, Rutherford, Stanly, Stokes, Surry, Wayne, Wilkes and Wilson. Apparently, the air in these counties is clean enough that a faulty tailpipe or 50 is nothing to worry about.

In non-exempt counties, these types of cars and trucks are subject to emissions testing: Those manufactured within 20 years of the current and the last three model years (basically 1997-2004) and/or have at least 70,000 miles on the odometer.

Examples: A 2003 Ford Taurus with 100,000 miles. A 1995 Geo Metro, even if the top speed is just 30 mph. A high mileage 1979 Subaru Brat, although its emissions are the least of its problems. It sported rear-facing jump seats mounted in the bed, plus protruding handles, all the better to impale you in a collision. A 1975 AMC Pacer, with 70,001 miles, if you dare to admit you own one.

The House convenes at 10:30 a.m.Thursday to debate the 19 bills filed tonight.

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