Polluter protection bill headed for a vote in N.C. General Assembly
North Carolina legislators are considering a bill reversing decades of progress safeguarding public health and the environment. HB765, or the Polluter Protection Act, marks the largest handout to polluters since Governor Pat McCrory took office. The bill originated as a one-pager on gravel transportation and has since become a lengthy omnibus bill stuffed with terrible environmental provisions.
The provisions included read like a laundry list of bad policy:
- Offering immunity and confidentiality for polluters who self-report;
- Allowing incomplete cleanup of soil and groundwater contamination;
- Reducing air quality monitors;
- Preventing (or removing authority of) local health departments from permitting wastewater treatment systems, like septic;
- Ending comprehensive, free electronics recycling, paid for by electronics manufacturers;
- Repealing idling restriction for heavy-duty trucks;
- Reducing important water quality protections.
Presented as regulatory reform, this bill is more accurately characterized as an abdication by elected officials of their responsibility to serve citizens and conserve the state’s heritage for future generations.
Already, bills and the budget passed by the General Assembly in recent days have undercut environmental safeguards in the state. House Bill 44, passed Thursday, reduces requirements for buffers along streams and other waterways, even though buffer protections are “the cheapest way to protect our water quality,” as Representative Pricey Harrison, D-Guilford, told the Coastal Review Online.
The $21.7 billion state budget, also passed last week, was not much better for the state’s environment or public health. North Carolina’s job-inducing tax credit for the solar industry was not renewed, putting the state at risk of falling behind its neighbors in harnessing the economic and environmental benefits on the booming alternative energy industry. North Carolina ranks fourth in the country for the number of installed solar panels and leads the region in solar-job creation. The end of the Renewable Energy Investment Tax Credit puts that positioning in jeopardy.
To avoid this harm to North Carolina’s legacy, contact your legislators and urge them to vote for the state’s future and against House Bill 765. You can reach North Carolina Senator and Representatives by calling 919-733-7929.