The North Carolina General Assembly is still active and considering action on two bills, both of which would be significant environmental and clean water protection rollbacks.
Please urge your senator and representative to oppose H162, to NOT override the veto of S16 and to protect the water we all enjoy and depend on.
This is a bill with a long list of different provisions, both environmental and non-environmental. It would make it harder for state agencies to adopt rules that are in the best interest of the public — even in cases of serious threats to public health. It would be much more challenging for NC to address new emerging threats, such as the contamination of the Cape Fear River with the chemical compound GenX. Our state agencies need to be able to act when public health and the environment are at risk.
Specifically, it would eliminate rulemaking ability by environmental regulators (the ability would be held by the General Assembly) for “A serious and unforeseen threat to the public health, safety, or welfare.” What if the NCGA is not in session?
On Monday, Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed S16, but the NCGA could override his veto. S16 is another bill packaging together numerous concerning provisions, but of particular consequence to our region is the language pertaining to stormwater. S16 would eliminate the ability of local governments to require stormwater mitigation for redevelopment projects. Charlotte-Mecklenburg does this, and it is something the Catawba Riverkeeper has spent much time working on with regulators, developers and City Council to come to a consensus on, including in a task force that met every two weeks throughout 2015. We spoke to the governors office prior to his veto of the bill and recommended he veto it. We applaud his decision to allow local governments to continue working on improving urban streams in need of water quality improvements from stormwater.
Years ago, we didn’t require onsite stormwater management. Now — with millions of dollars spent of flood damage, home buyback programs, and waterway restoration — we know we need to. When sites redevelop, that is an opportune occasion to install the stormwater treatment necessary to reduce flooding and improve water quality. Plus, local governments are best able to tailor environmental regulations to their local conditions. The mountains, Piedmont and coast all have different situations.