The Slow Demise of Our Environment, Peeling off One Protection Act a Time

The Backstory

In the last six years, the NC General Assembly has systematically dismantled important environmental safeguards and launched attacks on clean energy development. The NC Senate continued this tradition in 2016 by attacking the environment in two “regulatory reform” bills and by inserting anti-clean water language into its proposed budget.

The legislators who champion these provisions hide behind the guise of being “pro-business” and “pro-military.” In reality, these legislators chose to ignore both science and commonsense in order to move forward the anti-clean energy and anti-environment agenda of special interest groups.

“The Jordan Lake Rules were designed using proven science during a robust multi-year stakeholder process. Instead, the Senate allocated $500,000 to study whether freshwater mussels could clean the polluted lake, thus avoiding implementation of the Rule.”

Jordan Lake remains polluted

Once again, the Senate refused to implement the Jordan Lake Rules written to address the pollution (largely due to run-off from increasingly developed land) flowing into the lake. The Jordan Lake Rules were designed using proven science during a robust multi-year stakeholder process. Instead, the Senate allocated $500,000 to study whether freshwater mussels could clean the polluted lake, thus avoiding implementation of the Rules. This proposal falls on the heels of the failed SolarBee experiment, another untested technology that wasted over $1 million in taxpayer dollars in the process. It appears that the NC Senate leadership does not prioritize providing clean drinking water for nearly 300,000 residents.

Wind farm

Fortunately, bills to stop NC’s wind energy development failed this session.

NC Senate attacks wind energy development

Not only did Senators show disregard for the constituents they are supposed to represent, they also showed disdain for federal laws protecting U.S. citizens. One introduced bill challenged the Department of Defense (DOD)’s authority to approve state wind energy development projects. Instead, the Senate sought to concentrate the decision-making power in the politically-appointed NC Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. In other bills, Senators introduced provisions directly violating the federal Clean Water Act, such as the proposal to double the minimum distance of stream destruction before requiring mitigation (allowing violators to harm more of the stream before facing penalties and requiring full cleanup). The legislators behind these provisions claim to be fiscally responsible, but exposing North Carolina to expensive lawsuits for violating federal laws hardly seems like the actions of good financial stewards.