From an editorial Friday in the (Raleigh) News & Observer:
Gov. Pat McCrory’s environmental record hasn’t fared well amid the Duke Energy coal ash mess, but now he has an opportunity to show responsible leadership and vigilant environmental stewardship.
He can do it by vetoing House Bill 765.
This bill is a case of a sloppy legislative process opening the way for serious environmental damage, especially to groundwater. Like so many other bills last session, this one was passed with little public debate in the waning days of the session. It’s called the Regulatory Reform Act of 2015, but the more accurate name would be the Regulatory Rollback Act.
Among the changes:
▪ The bill allows businesses that self-report violations of environmental laws to be exempt from penalties. Allowing businesses to profit from breaking the law and then shielding them for self-reporting creates an incentive to ignore the law.
▪ Requirements that businesses clean up their polluted sites would be weakened.
▪ Intermittent streams – waterways that appear seasonally – will lose state protection, and it’s unclear what federal protections will remain.
▪ Coastal water quality, including water off popular beaches, could be degraded by a provision that weakens control of stormwater pollution.
Supporters say the bill should become law because it’s “good for business.” But the best thing for all of North Carolina is a state with less pollution.