Fishing For Facts- April 13, 2017
It is no secret that clean water protections have been under assault in North Carolina for a number of years. Now at the federal level, we see an administration that will champion similar rollbacks to federal laws that protect our rivers, creeks, and streams. That’s why we launched Fishing for Facts, a bi-weekly roundup of current attacks on America’s and North Carolina’s clean water protections. Every other week, we’ll post a straightforward, up-to-date list of bills and policies that threaten your right to clean water, and include simple instructions on how to take action. For those that like to dive in deeper, look for links for more information on the bills.
If you talk to your NC Legislator or Member of Congress about clean water, we want to hear about it! Contact us and let us know what you said and what their response was!
Priority- North Carolina Legislation
The General Assembly will not be doing much business until Wednesday, April 19th, in order for legislators to enjoy the Easter break with their families. Starting next Wednesday, action will heat up as the crossover deadline approaches. This is a deadline set that requires bills to have passed from one chamber to the other. Those that do not cross over will be dead for this session (be wary though, any bill that did meet crossover could be stripped of its language and entirely new, unrelated bills can be inserted).
Senate Bill 131– The section of the bill that is concerning, is section 3.13, which opens the door for 300 feet of any stream and river to be destroyed without consequence. This bill passed the House earlier in April. Since the bill originated in the Senate, it returns to that chamber for concurrence.
Please contact your Senators and ask them to amend the bill to remove Section 3.13 to protect our water from further pollution and flooding. If the bill passes the Senate, be ready to asked Governor Cooper for a veto. Read more here.
House Bill 467– As noted in an article from Facing South, this bill would “prevent people living near the state’s numerous factory farms from recovering more than token damages in civil lawsuits where the farm’s corporate owner is found responsible for harming them.” The House narrowly passed the bill this week. The bill was intended to block over 25 class action suits representing over 500 neighbors of swine production operations. However, an amendment was approved that will make the bill applicable to new cases moving forward. The bill sponsor, Rep. Jimmy Dixon, is attempting to get the Senate to remove the amendment and allow the bill to affect current court cases. But this is still a bad bill. Contact your Senators and ask them to “Vote No” on House Bill 467. More info at the News and Observer Story.
Other NC Legislation of Concern
Below is a list of bills we are monitoring. If they begin to move, we will provide future updates and ways to take action.
Senate Bill 434, “Amend Environmental Laws 2” – This bill would roll back local governments’ authority to protect water quality using the proven method of riparian buffers in zoning, subdivision control, flood control, water supply watershed protection and special permits
Senate Bill 539, “Environmental Regulatory Reform Act 2016-2017” – One section of this bill repeals a Plastic Bag ban that was implement 7 years ago for portions of the Outerbanks. Local governments support the plastic bag ban, saying it’s been effective and helpful. See story.
To find your NC Representative or Senator, click this link:
US Congress and Federal Legislation
Congress started its April recess this week. This is a great opportunity to reach out to your Representatives and Senators while they are at their home offices. In addition, find out if any of your Members of Congress are hosting Town Halls. This is a great opportunity to be heard and ask about the pending bills and administrative actions we highlight below. Check out the links below to find information on town halls and other local events.
Priority Federal Legislation and Administrative Actions
Federal Budget: Taking an Ax to EPA– President Trump’s proposed budget would slash the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) funding by a third. Before EPA existed, environmental protection was left to the states, which could not adequately protect the public from pollution.
House Resolution 1261- This bill would vastly limit the waters protected from pollution by the Clean Water Act and make polluters less accountable. This will directly affect the health and well-being of our families and our communities. Protecting clean water is one of the fundamental responsibilities we have to future generations. Meanwhile, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is already starting the process to roll back the Clean Water Rule and reduce our clean water protections. It is vital that you speak up on behalf of clean water.
House Resolution 1179- “We pollute, you pay” – The citizen suit provision is a vital aspect of the Clean Water Act because it gives citizens and groups the ability to bring polluters to court when our waters are being contaminated. H.R. 1179 would threaten this provision by forcing people that take legal action to face the possibility of financial ruin if they end up losing the case for any reason.