The state House and Senate have now both passed different versions of the next state budget, and a conference committee from both chambers are now negotiating a compromise version. The bad news for environmental advocates is both versions carry special provisions which would eliminate critical local environmental protections across North Carolina and strip local governments of their ability to restore or improve those protections. That means what comes out of conference will likely be bad news for the environment and local government at some level.
There are three key anti-local environmental protection items provisions under negotiation:
- Anti-tree ordinances: The House version of the budget would prohibit cities and counties from adopting ordinances to regulate tree removal from private property without explicit legislative authorization.
- Billboards forever: Provisions in the draft budget would ban local governments from limiting billboards in order to protect trees and control visual pollution.
- Eliminate local stormwater and riparian buffer rules: The budget would strip local governments of their power to adopt stronger stormwater management controls or riparian buffer protections than are otherwise required by state or federal law.
These anti-environment provisions are on top of the anti-voter provisions reviewed in last week’s CIB, which are just as dangerous for our state as the above threats. Without a healthy democracy, we can’t have a healthy environment because voters must be able to elect the leaders of their choice and hold them accountable.
All of the anti-environment and anti-voter provisions are currently being hashed out behind closed doors as conferees assemble a final budget that will win enough votes to stand up to a potential Gov. Roy Cooper veto. Legislative Democrats say they will push to have the problematic policy provisions stripped from the final bill and to ensure Gov. Cooper has a seat at the negotiating table.
Keep pushing your legislators to prioritize Gov. Cooper’s environmental investments in the final budget! Click here to email them now.