Thursday, April 28, 2011

N.C. GOP attempting to cut environmental budget in statehouse

Posted By on Thu, Apr 28, 2011 at 9:35 AM

Two things will be accomplished if North Carolina legislators succeed in slashing environmental funding: 1) We'll pay the price with our declining health — and 2) Corporations will make more money.

Democratic Congressmen David Price (NC-4) and Brad Miller (NC-13) came to the legislature Thursday, the same day the Joint Regulatory Reform committee held a public hearing in the building.

GOP leaders say the state's environmental regulations are out of control, delaying business growth and discouraging new businesses from coming to North Carolina. They say easing the state's sometimes complex environmental rules will encourage economic growth.

Democrats say there's no truth to that.

"Rolling back environmental protection isn't going to create a single job,"  Price said at the press conference for Environment N.C.

Price said environmental rules for clean air and water have prevented "hundreds of thousands of premature deaths per year, and saved the United States trillions in healthcare costs."

Price says N.C. Republican leaders want to eliminate the state's Department of Environment and Natural Resources. "This is a call to action. People need to make their voices heard."

Read the entire article, by Laura Leslie, here.

The Catawba Riverkeeper, David Merryman, who is based in Charlotte, recently sent this message to his organization's membership on the issue:


If you have participated in any of the training courses offered by Catawba Riverkeeper, you know that it's important to know the individuals responsible for the inspection and enforcement of compliance with our environmental laws. You also know that they are extremely under-staffed, and they need our help.

What if there was no one to know? What if they went away?

The proposed budget for NC Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources does just that by closing the Mooresville Regional Office, which serves the fastest growing region of North Carolina in Mecklenburg, Lincoln, Gaston, Cleveland, Alexander, Iredell, Rowan, Cabarrus, Union and Stanly counties. DENR's Division of Water Quality enforces the Catawba River Buffer Rules that were fought for for many years, addresses fish kills, issues notices of violation and assesses civil penalties for polluting our waterways.  The Division of Land Quality protects our waterways from sediment-laden runoff at construction sites. The list goes on, but I'll spare you.

Yes, I frequently disagree, and, just as frequently, challenge DENR staff decisions on how to protect our water, but I recognize the importance of having local inspectors that can respond to issues and work with citizens to bring about resolution to pollution events more quickly than someone from the Winston-Salem Office, which is planned to be taking over the Mooresville Office service region. Closing the Mooresville Office will only give polluters carte blanche to do as they will with our water, air and land.

It's time to tell our legislators that our environmental quality does not need to take the full load of budgetary cuts. Use your County or ZIP+4 code to find your NC Representative and Senator here. NC House Appropriations Subcommittee on Natural and Economic Resources members can be found here, and the Senate Appropriations Committee on Natural and Economic Resources here.

Yes, DENR does need to reduce costs, and potentially cut staff positions, but DON'T CLOSE THE MOORESVILLE OFFICE COMPLETELY! We need to keep good, hard-working local staff who focus on local problems and make sure our state laws are upheld in the fastest growing region in North Carolina.

The Southern Environmental Law Center on the true price of coal, just one industry that will benefit from the GOP's plan:

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