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John SkvarlaAt a Monday’s Locke Foundation “Shaftsbury Society” lunch, North Carolina’s Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources John Skvarla made a rather remarkable claim that you can watch in the two-minute highlight video posted here.

Skvarla claimed that his department (and, by implication, the McCrory administration) is not changing or relaxing environmental rules and regulations, but just working harder to help businesses negotiate the bureaucracy. If that’s so, it must mean that the Secretary will be working hard to secure a veto of some controversial bills currently pending on Gov. McCrory’s desk that would do just that.

For example, House Bill 74 would, according to the N. C. Conservation Network: Read More

There’s yet another disturbing fracking story worth reading – this one from the good people at Pro Publica:

“A recently published studyby researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington found elevated levels of arsenic and other heavy metals in groundwater near natural gas fracking sites in Texas’ Barnett Shale.

While the findings are far from conclusive, the study provides further evidence tying fracking to arsenic contamination. An internal Environmental Protection Agency PowerPoint presentation recently obtained by the Los Angeles Times warned that wells near Dimock, Pa., showed elevated levels of arsenic in the groundwater. The EPA also found arsenic in groundwater near fracking sites in Pavillion, Wyo., in 2009 — a study the agency later abandoned.”

Click here to read the entire story. Let’s hope Gov. McCrory and his Commerce Secretary check it out as well.

A group of 14 North Carolina environmental advocacy groups submitted a letter to Governor McCrory yesterday in which they urged him to veto two controversial bills advanced by polluters during the waning hours of the recently adjourned legislative session.

The letter describes the two bills as follows:

“House Bill 74 is a sixty-eight-page compilation of special interest handouts, some of which have already caught your attention. As you noted in your press conference on July 26th, the bill weakens standards that protect citizens, communities and gamelands from the impacts of landfills. Additionally, you pointed out that the bill strips local governments of control over the size and types of billboards that can be erected in a community….

[Senate Bill 515] is the third delay of a much-needed and federally required clean up of Jordan Lake. The rules need a chance to bear results. Once implemented, wastewater plant upgrades and better stormwater management will reduce water pollution in Jordan Lake and the rivers and streams that feed into it. Several local governments have already invested a lot of time and money complying in good faith with the Jordan Lake rules, and Senate Bill 515 punishes them for making those investments. In addition, delaying the rules exposes upstream municipalities and developers to legal challenges for failure to adequately protect a resource that the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has already found to be impaired.”

Click here to read the entire letter as well as new survey results showing that strong public support of most North Carolinians for strong environmental protection laws.

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. Read More

From the North Carolina Sierra Club:

“Legislature ends session with Jordan Lake bills

Jordan Lake bills signal tough times ahead for troubled lake

RALEIGH – Early this morning, the Senate gave final approval to

SB 515, a measure to further delay the rules intended to clean up Jordan Lake. Jordan Lake is a drinking water supply for more than 300,000 people in the Triangle.  Over the three years of delay, more pollutants will run into the lake making it more expensive and difficult to clean up down the road.

“We have a plan in place to clean up Jordan Lake.” said  Molly Diggins, state director of the NC Sierra Club. “ But now lawmakers in Raleigh have needlessly delayed that plan. Instead, they are diverting more than a million dollars from other clean water projects to pay for a pilot project that will not address pollution flowing into the Lake.” Read More