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


This Thursday is “Crossover Day” at the General Assembly — a self-imposed deadline used by lawmakers to weed out some of the hundreds of bills that have been introduced so far this year. Without going into the details, it’s enough to note that the crossover deadline will make for a busy week of sausage grinding on Jones Street. Lots and lots of bills — many of them destructive and counter-productive — will receive only a few minutes’ consideration before being sent long their merry way.

Two destructive environmental policy bills are near the top of the list as the fun gets underway this afternoon in the House.

At 1:00 p.m., the House Regulatory Reform Committee will take up the so-called “Regulatory Reform Act of 2015.” Here’s what the good folk at the Sierra Club have to say about this proposal:

“In the late 1990’s after public outcry, about massive fish kills in the Neuse and Pamlico Rivers, the State developed cost effective and comprehensive strategies to reduce water pollution from all sources.

[The Regulatory Reform Act of 2015] would greatly expand exemptions to North Carolina’s riparian buffer requirements and reduce local control.

Buffers are the most cost effective mechanism that we have to protect water quality in streams and rivers. Since federal and state water quality standards still have to be met, reducing buffers serves only to increase the costs to farmers and local governments.”

A new version of the bill would also allow giant hog farm populations to grow.

Meanwhile, later on this evening, the full House will consider a widely criticized proposal to gut the State Environmental Protection Act (SEPA). As Craig Jarvis of Raleigh’s News & Observer reported the other day: Read More


In case you missed it, the lead editorial in this morning’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer neatly sums up the disastrous 59 page jumble of regulatory changes signed into law by Gov. McCrory last Friday. After noting that the measure was supposedly about “streamlining” regulatory processes, the editorial says this:

“On signing the bill, the governor repeated the sentiment, saying, ‘This common sense legislation cuts government red tape, axes overly burdensome regulations and puts job creation first here in North Carolina.’

Sounds logical and harmless. Except the bill is not what its title and the governor claim it is. It is illogical and dangerous. It is concessions to developers and polluters crammed into a massive bill that was rushed through the legislature in the crush of closing business.

This bill will ‘streamline’ regulatory process with a sledgehammer and blowtorch.”

Read the entire editorial and its detailed explanation of why the bill’s hodegpodge of new laws are not really about “reform” by clicking here.


Xmas presentAs the 2013 legislative session begins to move toward adjournment, it looks like the General Assembly is taking its practice of pulling complex and controversial bills out of thin air and passing them before anyone even has time to respond to the next level. Among today’s examples: a giant new bill to rewrite dozens of state regulations — many dealing with important environmental protections.

Today, the Senate Rules Committee took up House Bill 74. Prior to the meeting, the bill was a modest three-page  proposal entitled “Periodic Review and Expiration of Rules.” After the meeting it was a 56 page monster with scores of separate sections entitled the “Regulatory Reform Act of 2013.” Don’t look for it online though — things are moving so fast the General Assembly website hasn’t even caught up yet. Read More


This Friday, the Joint Regulatory Reform Committee will gather (1027 LB @ 9:00am) for a presentation on Senate Bill 781.

Regular readers of the Progressive Pulse may recall SB781 (the Regulatory Reform Act of 2011) was vetoed by Governor Perdue in late June after she heard from thousands of North Carolinians concerned about the bill’s impact on public health and future  environmental protections.

But by the July session, the Republican-controlled legislature was successful in overriding the gubernatorial veto.

Much of  SB781, that will take effect on January 1st, limits state agencies from adopting any rules to protect the environment that are more restrictive than federal law. The legislation also mandates that each agency conduct an annual review of its rules, and then repeal those that are deemed unnecessary or “unduly burdensome.”

Sam Pearsall, a senior scientist with Environmental Defense Fund, talked to N.C. Policy Watch earlier this year about the problems with the Regulatory Reform Act. He won’t be presenting on Friday, but you can listen to his take below:

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