Dismantled: New report details years of cuts to North Carolina’s environmental protections

Released today, the SELC report Dismantled chronicles the trend of state officials undermining the sensible environmental policies that make North Carolina a great place to visit, live, and do business.

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.”

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