NC Senate Budget seeks further cuts to environmental agencies; House overrides Governor’s veto
It’s been a rough two weeks for environmental and public health protection in North Carolina. Harmful bills have passed into law and the Senate’s newly released proposed budget cuts the Department of Environmental Quality funding by 10%; another blow to an already funding strapped agency.
However, a stunning victory in the US Congress is worth celebrating. The US Senate’s 51-to-49 vote yesterday marked the first time since President Trump’s election that an attempt by Congress to use the Congressional Review Act to overturn an Obama-era rule failed. Without the methane rule, an estimated 175,000-180,000 tons of methane (a greenhouse gas that traps 86 times more heat than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period) would have been released annually into the atmosphere, drastically hindering our efforts to combat climate change and resulting impacts to water quality around the globe.
Priority- North Carolina Legislation
House Votes to Override Governor Cooper’s Veto
The House voted to override the Governor’s veto of House bill 467 last night, largely along party lines (see how your representative voted). The veto override vote now heads to the Senate with an expected vote today or tomorrow.
House bill 467 puts the profits of polluting hog operations ahead of the health of neighbors and nearby communities, and upends centuries of law. The John Locke Society even agrees with environmentalists on this issue. Despite the John Locke Society’s general aversion to class action lawsuits, a recent article from the organization stated “that [aversion] doesn’t justify overturning an ancient principle of Anglo-American common law that has, for more than 400 years, protected property owners’ right to the quiet enjoyment of their property. North Carolina should defend that right, not take it away (see full article here)”
H467 is a harmful bill that generally hurts those who can least afford it. H467 prevents those who live near industrial agricultural facilities from recovering more than token damages in civil lawsuits where a farm’s corporate owner is found responsible for harming them.
Please contact your NC state Senator TODAY and urge them to vote “No” on the veto override vote.
NC Senate Releases Budget
Just this week, the NC Senate released their version of the budget. The budget calls for another large cut to the Department of Environmental Quality…to the tune of 7 million dollars or 10% of their current budget. The Senate proposal seeks to eliminate 56.5 positions from existing DEQ programs. Please contact your state senator and representative and ask them to support full funding for DEQ, the agency in charge of protecting and preserving the state’s natural resources.
Read more: NC Senate Proposed 2017 Budget
Other concerning legislation
Senate Bill 131 has been signed by Governor Cooper. When this bill was going through the process we spoke out against Section 3.13. It will allow for the destruction of 300 feet of any stream and river without consequence (current law only allows 150 ft). This is particularly concerning in light of the current flooding in the Neuse and Tar Rivers. This bill will lead to INCREASED downstream flooding for communities that have been really hard hit over the past six months.
House Bill 576 This bill would allow the spraying of landfill wastewater and fluids into the air without a permit! Toxicologist experts weighed in and noted “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near a leachate aeration basin. The downwind emissions would very likely contain a very wide range of toxic materials”. It didn’t take long for the bill to pass out of the House. It is now in the Senate Rules committee.
Action! Please contact your senator and ask them to vote “no” on this bill.
The following two stories by Lisa Sorg from NC Policy watch summarize our concerns.
Let’s talk more about the bad idea of spraying garbage juice all over communities of color
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. It also includes provisions to repeal and effective and popular plastic bag ban on the Outerbanks. It also continues the delay of cleanup of Falls Lake. Oh and if you live on the Catawba River…bye-bye protected streamside buffers (seriously, why is this legislature so intent on allowing all streambanks to be clear cut!) This bill is so bad, we have a 2 page fact sheet to explain all the dirty details!
The bill passed out of the Senate and is currently in the House rules committee.
Action! Please contact your Representatives and ask them to vote no on Senate Bill 434!
To find your NC Representative or Senator, click this link:
H.R. 848 is a blatant attempt to prevent the public from taking action to protect themselves against dangerous pollution caused by industrial-scale confined livestock facilities. Introduced by Representative Dan Newhouse, a Republican from Washington’s 4th district, H.R. 848 takes away a legal tool from the public – the ability to sue hog, dairy, cattle, and poultry Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (“CAFOs”) under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) when their mismanagement of animal waste contaminates water and even when it endangers human health. Read More and Take Action