North Carolina legislators endanger people’s health and safety with polluters’ wish list in H.B.600
Legislators propose to block efforts to stop PFAS pollution of N.C. drinking water sources, curtail local input in MVP Southgate, and prohibit cleaner technology for handling industrial hog waste
CHAPEL HILL, N.C.—North Carolina legislators recently added provisions to House Bill 600, Regulatory Reform Act, that would do away with basic water protections that keep our drinking water, communities, and families in North Carolina safe from pollution, according to the Southern Environmental Law Center. These provisions are in violation of the federal Clean Water Act and federal civil rights laws.
“Recent proposals by state legislators reflect a polluters’ wish list that limits the state’s ability to protect drinking water and the health and safety of North Carolinians,” said Geoff Gisler, program director at the Southern Environmental Law Center. “This legislation would block efforts to stop toxic pollution like PFAS and 1,4 dioxane in drinking water supplies, put our communities in danger, and violate federal law.”
A provision in Section 7 of the bill would prevent the state from imposing limits on toxic PFAS, and 1,4 dioxane pollution as well as other dangerous chemicals and completely ignores the health and safety of the people and communities of North Carolina. Hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians are suffering from exposure to these toxic chemicals from pollution by Chemours, DuPont, upstream waste dischargers, and other sources. This provision would also continue to place the burden and harm of toxic pollution onto North Carolina’s communities instead of making polluters stop pollution at its source as required by law. It would be a blatant violation of the Clean Water Act by legislators and betrayal of their constituents and the people of North Carolina.
Another provision in Section 7 would sharply curtail the state and people of North Carolina’s ability to weigh in on large federal projects with big impacts to our communities and the water we drink. For example, this provision would limit the ability of residents of Alamance and Rockingham counties to prevent harms to their communities from the Mountain Valley Pipeline Southgate project.
A provision in Section 12 would prohibit the state from considering cleaner technology for handling large amounts of hog sewage, leaving in place the current practice of spraying feces and urine onto fields where it contaminates drinking water supplies and harms people’s health—disproportionately impacting Black, Latino, and indigenous communities. The legislation would also prevent the state from considering or limiting the cumulative harm from existing industrial hog operations and limits the state’s ability to deny permits or add conditions to permits to comply with federal civil rights or water protection laws. Following a pattern of environmental injustice, this provision is the latest move by the N.C. legislature to shield the politically powerful hog industry from being held accountable by people and communities harmed by its pollution for many decades.
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