Take Action: Protect NC wetlands NOW!Posted on April 27th, 2023
Right now, three bills moving forward in the North Carolina Senate would remove protections from state wetlands and open the floodgates for more development in wet places — leading to more downstream flooding. The three bills containing provisions removing state protections for isolated wetlands areas are the Farm Act, the Regulatory Reform Act and the Environmental Permitting Reforms (S582 §15; S686 §4; S744 §1).
Thousands of acres of North Carolina wetlands stand to lose state protections under these bills, all of which would change how North Carolina’s wetlands are defined to reflect the definition laid out in the “Waters of the United States” rule — a definition that could soon be further restricted depending on the outcome of a U.S. Supreme Court case currently being deliberated.
North Carolina has stronger wetlands protections than those at the federal level, because with our history of hurricanes, we need them. Wetlands act as sponges, absorbing a lot of water, and when big storms come along, upstream wetlands keep massive amounts of water from moving downstream and flooding downstream communities. Fewer wetlands mean less protection from flooding.
While the state has set aside tens of millions of dollars to help local governments prepare for flooding and recover from flooding, reducing North Carolina’s wetlands protections creates a zero-sum situation: laws that will inevitably increase flooding or reduce the state’s ability to prepare for flooding cancel out the legislation passed — and tax-payer dollars spent — to prevent, prepare and recover from flooding.
The effect of the three bills being considered in the N.C. Senate would leave many wetlands unprotected. With so much state funding going into flood prevention and mitigation, removing protections from more wetland areas undermines these important and necessary efforts.
Members of the NC general assembly need to hear from constituents that stripping protections from state wetlands would result in more flooding and harm North Carolina’s flood-prone communities.