Late last Friday afternoon, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law H765, the “Regulatory Reform Act of 2015.”
This massive reform bill is better known as “The Polluter Protection Act” with its plethora of anti-environmental provisions, regulatory rollbacks and giveaways to industry.
According to Environmental Defense Fund Senior Analyst David Kelly:
This legislation is a hodgepodge of short-sighted provisions that allow a more polluted environment, plain and simple. It encourages irresponsible business practices. It insulates polluters from their responsibility to fully clean up contamination they cause. It removes protections for nearly 50,000 miles of streams that supply our drinking water, provide important fish habitat, and help keep our waterways clean and healthy. H765 eliminates sensible safeguards for our air, water, wildlife, and puts the health of our children and families on the hook when polluters should be.
Over the past weeks, thousands of North Carolinians have called or emailed the governor’s office to urge him to veto this bill.So, just how bad is it? Well, for starters, H765:
- grants immunity to companies from civil penalties and fines that violate environmental laws if they self-report.
- shields polluter information of its own violations by preventing use of the information in a civil case and in actions to compel cleanup of environmental contamination. More seriously, it would hide evidence from injured neighbors seeking a remedy in court.
- weakens controls on stormwater pollution along our coasts, putting at risk the water quality that sustains our fisheries and tourism industries.
- allows removal of air quality monitors in the state not specifically required by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, significantly reducing the number of these important environmental monitoring stations.
- privatizes wastewater inspection and permitting — previously the duty of local health departments — removing key oversight by environmental health officials.
- places risk of fees on environmental attorneys: Attorneys representing environmental, civic, and community organizations would be subject to fees if they lose a case against the state, making it harder for community groups to find legal representation to challenge weak state environmental permits and other regulations.
It also eliminates protections for more than half of all of North Carolina streams, threatening downstream drinking water supplies. See the full bill here.
After the passage of H765, Molly Diggins, state director for the North Carolina Sierra Club, issued the following statement:
H765 may well be the worst environmental bill of McCrory’s three years as Governor, and yet he has made it law with his signature. The Governor missed an opportunity to stand up for clean air, clean water and healthy communities. He also missed the opportunity to stand up for transparency and public process.”
Email Gov. McCrory at email@example.com or call the governor’s office at (919) 814-2050 and let him know how disappointed you are in his passage of such an environmentally harmful law.
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