Increase the number of seats reserved for scientists and health experts on North Carolina environmental regulatory boards.
Environmental protections must be rooted in strong science and designed to protect the health of NC’s citizens; however, the state has reduced the number of seats reserved for scientists and health experts on environmental boards that are charged with developing key regulations. The state has since undermined key water quality protections for wetlands (which recharge and protect groundwater and help to prevent flooding), streamside buffers of trees and vegetation that limit polluted runoff from agriculture and development, and intermittent streams, which make up nearly half of North Carolina’s stream miles.
Restore cuts to environmental regulators to ensure polluters are held accountable.
NC Department of Environmental Quality must be adequately staffed to respond to requests from the regulated community – and to ensure that polluters are held accountable for violating environmental laws. Unfortunately, in recent years, the agency has been “reorganized” and budgets have been cut in key areas such as water quality. Enforcement actions at the agency were cut in half between 2010 and 2015, dropping from 535 to 170. 1
Remove restrictions on local governments to adopt their own environmental rules.
Local governments are also important partners in environmental protection, able to craft protections that are responsive to the needs of their own geography and communities. Yet, in recent years, the state has severely limited the capacity of local governments to adopt restrictions that are more stringent than state law – including measures designed to protect drinking water from fracking.
1 Bradford, Ben. (November 24, 2014). "NC Drastically Cuts Enforcement Of Top Water Pollutant." WFAE.