You’d think if he was going to sign a bill that’s been widely condemned in editorials across the state and decried by every major environmental organization in North Carolina, he’d at least have the courage to stand up, face the cameras and explain himself.

Unfortunately, that’s not how Pat McCrory rolls. Instead the Guv simply buried the Polluter Protection Act in a list of several bills signed late last Friday when the media had already pretty much packed up shop for the week. All in all, it was a fitting way to usher in a new and hugely destructive law that was crafted in secret by corporate lobbyists and rammed through the General Assembly with as little public input as possible.

The Monday newsletter of the League of Conservation Voters explains once more what’s in this mess of a new law:

Gov. Pat McCrory on Friday left no doubt where he stands. By signing HB 765, the 2015 “rules reform” bill now widely known as the Polluter Protection Act, McCrory acted to protect polluters at the cost of greatly increased danger to the health, clean water, and clean air of all North Carolinians. Read More

Image: Natural Resources Defense Council

Image: Natural Resources Defense Council

A few of the worst last-minute proposals advanced during last night’s kangaroo sessions of the North Carolina House and Senate failed, mercifully, to win final approval prior to the 4:00 a.m. final adjournment. That said, lawmakers still shipped a bevy of dreadful and destructive bills down the street to the Governor’s Mansion.

One of the most troubling was/is the aptly nicknamed “Polluter Protection Act.” Though some of the bill’s rougher edges were smoothed slightly in the session’s final hours, the proposal still goes to Governor McCrory with its horrific centerpiece intact — a provision that would allow permit-holders who violate environmental limits to be excused from civil penalties for their offenses, if they “self-report” the violations.

Environmental advocates are demanding that the Governor veto this monstrosity. The good people at the Environmental Defense Fund put it this way in a statement this morning:

“The N.C. General Assembly has given final approval to House Bill 765, known as the Regulatory Reform Act of 2015. If the legislation becomes law, it will allow more air and water pollution, degrade land, harm wildlife and put public health at risk.

This legislation is a hodgepodge of short-sighted provisions that allow a more polluted environment, plain and simple. It encourages irresponsible business practices. It insulates polluters from their responsibility to fully clean up contamination they cause. It removes protections for nearly 50,000 miles of streams that supply our drinking water, provide important fish habitat, and help keep our waterways clean and healthy.

H765 eliminates sensible safeguards for our air, water, wildlife, and puts the health of our children and families on the hook when polluters should be.”

Meanwhile, Dan Crawford of the League of Conservation Voters was even more succinct when he said the bill could be “the worst environmental bill of Gov. McCrory’s tenure.”

For a summary of the lowlights and the action that environmental advocates are taking to secure a veto click here.

For a thorough list of the bill’s grisly details click here.

Image: Natural Resources Defense Council

Image: Natural Resources Defense Council

The biggest scandal right now in the world of industry involves the giant German manufacturer Volkswagen, which has now admitted to installing software in its vehicles to provide false emission tests results. As the New York Times reports this morning, one of the factors that led to this scandal was the regulatory structure that allows car manufacturers to do their own emission tests or to select the companies with which they will contract to perform them.

In other words, with self-policing for environmental pollution you inevitably get…wait for it…cheating. The drive for profits often makes the temptation to cook the books is too great.

This brings us to one of the centerpieces of the so-called “regulatory reform” legislation (aka the “Polluter Protection Act”) that’s currently awaiting final action in the General Assembly as lawmakers move toward adjournment next week. As was explained earlier this week by the good people at the N.C. League of Conservation Voters, the proposed law would enact a regulatory framework that is even weaker than the one that gave rise to the VW scandal. This is from the League’s Weekly Conservation Bulletin:

“The big environmental fight surely looming over the remainder of this legislative year deals with HB 765, now better known as the Polluter Protection Act.

Why is that? In brief, imagine this: A corporate polluter – one of those occasional bad actors whose irresponsible behavior undercuts the efforts of the more ethical majority of businesses – has been carelessly dumping unpermitted pollution into your local river. It realizes that it is finally about to be caught, either by concerned citizens or one of the overworked remaining state environmental enforcement staff. It quickly runs a ‘self-audit’ and confesses to its regrettable “mistake” of dumping excess pollution into the river feeding the local water supply. Hey, presto! Said corporate polluter gets immunity and is let off the hook from fines and penalties on the basis of its promise to do better from now on.

This isn’t satire; that kind of provision is actually contained in the Polluter Protection Act.

In other words, under the proposed new model for North Carolina, a polluter could be as guilty as Volkswagen and then, upon being discovered, simply self-report its behavior as a “mistake” and avoid any liability.

Of course, for every polluter who finally realizes they’re about to get caught and self-reports, there will undoubtedly be many more who will go their merry way, degrading our environment without any consequences at all. Others, like VW, will get away with murder for many years and never even face the kind of consequences that awaits the giant car maker.

The bottom line: The self-policing provision of the “regulatory reform” bill makes a mockery of our environmental protection laws and citizens will be the ones who will pay the price.



The so-called “regulatory reform” bill  (aka the “Polluter Protection Act”) that’s been wending its way through the General Assembly this year contains a laundry list of provisions that would weaken important environmental protection laws and regulations. Laura Wenzel of the Medical Advocates for Healthy Air program at Clean Air Carolina details some of the most troubling in this “must read” op-ed:

H765 and Air Quality: Jones Street has it in for the Joneses

By Laura Wenzel, MSW

Air pollution impacts our lives in surprising ways, and some of the worst impacts don’t happen all at once, but as a gradual accumulation of stresses. Unfortunately, a bill currently being negotiated in the NC General Assembly boosts the harms of air pollution in just this way: a series of weakening changes that add up to bigger risks to our kids, our families, and ourselves.

H765, the Regulatory Reform Act of 2015, includes provisions that threaten air, water, and land. But to understand just the air quality provisions, let’s consider what H765 does to the hypothetical Jones family.

The Jones family includes Tonya, a pregnant woman; her six-year-old son Joseph; and her mother, Pauline. Their neighborhood is adjacent to a warehouse district, where heavy trucks travel daily. Currently, unless a truck’s engine is required for an operation like refrigeration, the truck is not allowed to idle for more than five minutes. This not only saves wear on the truck’s engine, it prevents diesel pollution from concentrating in the area. However, H765 repeals the anti-idling rule, allowing truckers to idle their vehicles for an unlimited amount of time.

This is bad news for the fetus that Tonya Jones is carrying. Read More


In case you missed it, an editorial in this morning’s Fayetteville Observer rightfully blasted the state Senate’s latest outrageous effort to gut state environmental regulations:

Some cynics are calling it the “Off-The-Wall Act of 2015.” Others suggest a better title might be the “Polluter Protection Act.”

In both cases they’re right. And what happened to House Bill 765 last weekend is a textbook chapter in how North Carolina lawmakers regularly commit outrages under cover of darkness.

Please note that we are not making a partisan statement here. For years, Democrats sparked Republican howls when they slipped through Trojan horse legislation that completely changed the purpose and effect of a bill. The howling traded sides when Republicans took over the General Assembly and quickly adopted time-tested Democratic dirty tricks.

House Bill 765 was, until recently, a one-page bill regulating the transportation of gravel. Last weekend, in the Senate, it became a 54-page epic that deregulated everything from profanity on public highways to the minimum age for operating all-terrain vehicles.

The bill is particularly pernicious in giving a greener light to polluters. It unprotects some wetlands, weakens stormwater regulations, removes air-quality monitors across the state and eliminates a requirement for recycling computers and televisions.

Read the entire editorial by clicking here.