Legislative Update 2016

Leaders in the state Senate included a special budget provision that would have repealed clean water standards that have been in place for two decades for the Neuse and Tar-Pamlico Rivers. The provision was based on false information that nutrient management rules have not worked.  Riparian buffers are one of the most important and cost effective measures to reduce the amount of nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) from reaching our waterways.   This fact is not understood very well by many.  Sound Rivers, in collaboration with three other organizations, developed and distributed a Scientific Review of Riparian Buffers that was distributed to legislators and you can see and download a copy of the report by clicking here.

After a rigorous advocacy campaign, excellent media coverage and significant voter input, legislative leaders removed this sweeping attack on water quality rules.   leaving important protections in place in the Neuse and Tar-Pamlico watersheds. However, the attacks on clean water for Falls and Jordan Lakes remain in the budget. For the Falls Lake watershed, the budget bill provisions will delay scheduled steps to clean up the reservoir and requires that state regulators begin readopting a new edition of the rules in 2019. In the meantime, efforts to protect and restore this lake – a water supply and important recreational destination – will fall further behind.

Apart from the budget bill, two other bills warranted action, including:

  •  Coal Ash: This 11th hour bill provides the Governor and the Dept. of Environmental Quality sole authority over the closure of Duke Energy’s massive leaking coal ash ponds as well as allowing most coal ash to remain in place along waterways.  Fortunately coal ash on the banks of the Neuse River in Goldsboro will still be removed  as provided in an earlier settlement achieved with Duke Energy.
  • Regulatory Reform Bill: This 12th hour bill died a sudden death as the Senate adjourned before the House voted on this bill which contained additional anti-environmental provisions.  The abrupt, unexpected end to the session apparently occurred in reaction to the House voting down two bills sent over by the Senate.  Whatever the reason, Sound Rivers is very happy with the outcome.