Across Appalachia

N.C. Legislature Addresses Environment

Date: July 30, 2015

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By Laura Marion

In North Carolina, where the state legislative session continues through much of summer, several bills with environmental ramifications have passed the General Assembly and, at press time, were awaiting either the governor’s signature or a committee to reconcile the House and Senate versions.

One bill, the Regulatory Reform Act of 2015, would provide broader immunity for companies charged with environmental violations, make it easier for the state to recoup attorney’s fees from environmental groups, and reduce the number of air quality monitors to the federal minimum. Another pending bill would allow property owners to build closer to streams, within the vegetated buffer that protects waterways from pollutants.

Despite a veto from Gov. McCrory, in June a bill became law that will render it illegal for employees to disclose activities happening in a long list of workplaces. Critics say the bill will have a chilling effect on whistleblowers, particularly at factory farms. And a bill to make resident petitions against zoning changes less effective was signed by the governor in July.

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