House Budget Slashes Water Protections

Another year, another budget that prioritizes corporate tax cuts over basic clean water.

The draft budget now up for debate in the North Carolina House would be a disaster for clean water in our state. Included in the non-fiscal section of the bill are provisions which would strip protections for environmentally critical “isolated” wetlands and preempt local rules on stormwater, wetlands, and riparian buffers. 

These permanently damaging changes in state law would more than cancel out the modest progress represented by several constructive items included in the bill. Those items include investments in climate adaptation and resiliency, and a few mostly one-time infusions into land and water conservation programs.

Commenting on the legal changes in the budget, Southern Environmental Law Center attorney Mary Maclean Asbill said, “This would be terrible for North Carolina’s wetlands and for North Carolina communities. State leaders should be doing all that they can to protect North Carolina citizens and communities from extreme flooding, yet this does the opposite.”

Environmental champion state House Rep. Pricey Harrison voted against passing the draft budget out of subcommittee, and pledged to work for amendments to remove the harmful provisions in full committee discussion or on the House floor. While there are multiple steps left to go in the budget approval process, the severity of the damage these water quality changes would produce make them a red-flag cause for legislative alarm.

Instead of these measures, tell your state representative to support the investments in clean air, clean water, and clean energy which Gov. Cooper proposed in his version of the budget!

The Senate passed its even worse version of the budget in June, and will have to reconcile it with whatever comes out of the House later this month to come up with what is known as a conference report which will have to again pass both chambers. Then the question is whether legislators have produced a spending plan that satisfies the governor or whether he will veto their budget. You can guess where our money is.

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