Commentary

Powerful new report documents the demise of NC environmental protection laws

Dismantled reportIn case you missed it all of the hubbub surrounding the roiling controversy over the McCrory administration’s decision to overrule state toxicologist Ken Rudo over the safety of drinking water from wells located near Duke coal ash dumps, the good folks at the Southern Environmental Law Center released a new report last week that’s worth you time. This is from the release that accompanied “Dismantled: The North Carolina Government’s Attack on Environmental Protection”:

“For six years, policies ensuring North Carolina’s long-term environmental health have been the target of state officials. Dismantled provides a comprehensive overview of the systematic attacks from state legislators and administration officials on coastal and water protections, air quality improvements, and open space preservation.

Once recognized as a leader in stewardship, North Carolina is now a cautionary tale for environmental rollbacks that threaten the state’s heritage. The report is marked by accounts of cuts to state agency funding, bans on environmental protections, and prioritizing short-term gains for special interests over long-term planning to benefit all North Carolinians.

Consider, since 2011:

  • The state attempted to outlaw the study of sea level rise;
  • The budget of the state agency responsible for protecting clean air and clean water has been cut 40 percent;
  • A ban on state environmental protections that are more stringent than federal laws was passed, ignoring local concerns;
  • Seats on state environmental boards were taken from scientific, health, and nonprofit members and given to industry and political appointees;
  • Renewable energy continues to come under attack, despite the economic potential and environmental benefits it provides.
  • After meetings at the Governor’s Mansion, the politically influential Duke Energy, the nation’s largest utility, managed passage of a new state law that allows Duke to leave most of its coal ash in place, ignoring pollution of rivers, lakes, and groundwater.

Again and again, the North Carolina political leadership has put protecting the state’s water, air, coast, and open spaces second to keeping polluters happy.

‘The results have been catastrophic,’ reads the report. ‘These actions undermine and cut protections for the clean air, clean water, healthy landscapes and beaches that North Carolina families need and enjoy.’”

Bottom line: It’s a sobering as heck document, but it deserved to shared and read widely. Click here to check it out.

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