While we are all distracted by the egregious and extreme legislation limiting the rights of women and LGBTQ+ communities, North Carolina Republican lawmakers are undermining environmental protections and hoping you don’t notice.
House Bill 600, which its sponsors call the “Regulatory Reform Act,” environmentalists are calling it “a polluters’ wish list.”
The bill would weaken regulations on discharges into waterways and allows the hog industry to avoid adopting cleaner waste disposal methods. The bill would also decrease timelines on how long the already over-worked and under-funded state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) can assess many permit applications.
For years Republicans in Raleigh have been slashing the budgets of the DEQ, hamstringing efforts to stop pollution in North Carolina and giving large polluters a free pass. This bill would further undermine the DEQ by implementing unmeetable deadlines on complex applications that can run for hundreds of pages. If a deadline is missed, the application would be accepted and approved by default with little opportunity for the public to be heard.
Geoff Gisler, a program director at the Southern Environmental Law Center, told The News & Observer, “Clearly the legislature does not want this done well if they are not funding the agency and enforcing these arbitrarily short timelines.”
If passed by the legislature and approved over a likely veto by Gov. Roy Cooper, House Bill 600 may have its first major environmental impact by easing the approval of an extension from the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) in Virginia, which opponents say would degrade the environment and create a threat of dangerous gas leaks in Rockingham and Alamance counties.
Read more at The News & Observer