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Late session environmental changes “an unfortunate way to do business”

enviroWith the legislative session winding down, legislators are moving quickly on a regulatory reform bill that could have a big impact on the state’s environment.

House Bill 593, simply titled “Amend Environmental and Other Laws,” covers a lot of ground — everything from prohibiting certain stormwater control measures, to changing stream water mitigation requirements, to seizing reptiles, to delaying insurance for moped owners.

Rose Hoban at North Carolina Health News highlights some of the bill’s environmental concerns:

There would be fewer requirements around capturing the runoff from a building site. Another provision would allow for more landscaping material like gravel, mulch and sand to run into existing streams and tributaries.

Folks on the downstream end of things found that concerning.

Todd Miller, head of the NC Coastal Federation said that material running into streams, rivers and, eventually, into the ocean, has lots of bacteria in it, from soil, from animals and from people.

“When we develop or use the land, we create runoff that wasn’t there before and increase transport of what’s going downstream,” Miller said. “We have to work to prevent the transport of pollutants off the landscape where they’re in natural abundance.”

He said once that stuff gets into the water, it’s harder to clean it up. It’s better to prevent it from getting there in the first place.

Another part of HB 593 would allow landfill managers to spray the water that collects at the bottom of the landfills, known as leachate, into the air to get rid of it.

According to a presentation submitted to the Environmental Review Commission in February, the aerosolization pumps can spray as much as 600 gallons per minute, with netting controlling the mist created by the spray. Darden said the idea is that spraying the stuff onto the existing landfill allows for the liquids to evaporate and the solids to be reintegrated into the rest of the garbage.

The 14-page bill sailed through committee 45 minutes after being introduced and could be up for a vote on the Senate floor next week.

Guilford County Representative Pricey Harrison calls the rushed legislation “an unfortunate way to do business.”

Read full coverage of HB593 here.

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