The original version of this bill simply revised a few environmental rules. However, since its initial introduction to the House of Representatives, it has been loaded with provisions for special interests and industry polluters. We elected our legislators to protect the needs of the citizens of North Carolina, not special interests. The changes made in this bill are not in our best interests.
The bill now includes provisions that would reduce beverage container recycling. Not only is keeping recyclable containers out of landfills good for the environment, this industry is a large source of jobs and economic growth in North Carolina. The proposed legislation would negatively affect this beneficial industry and would even allow the burning of plastic containers that could have been recycled, releasing toxic pollutants into the air unnecessarily.
Perhaps the most outrageous part of this bill is taxpayer bailouts for leaking underground storage tank owners. This goes against the promises of fiscal responsibility that were made to the North Carolina public, by using taxes to pay for the cleanup of toxins leaking into the ground from privately owned underground tanks. This could cost us up to $1 million annually, without requiring those responsible for the pollution to make any responsible decisions regarding the upgrading or replacement of these structures. This provision does nothing to create jobs and wastes our precious income in these economically tough times. Perhaps it should not come as a surprise that Senator East, who supported this bill in committee, has a leaking underground storage tank on his property. Furthermore, one section repeals a ban on old and outdated tank technology at the request of the manufacturing industry, against the recommendations of state experts, even after an economic and technological study of the subject.
The many other provisions and exemptions in this piece of legislation include a 6 year delay for adopting a strategy to improve the water quality in Jordan Lake, in order to allow polluters to continue discharging into the public drinking water supply. This is unfair to the many downstream users of the waterway.
In addition, development exceptions are included regarding rules protecting fisheries in the Neuse and Pamlico estuaries. Mitigating the pollution on these new developments will not only increase public and private costs, but will damage the economic benefits that these fisheries and waterways provide. These and other damaging sections in House Bill 119 may result in less federal funding for water quality protection.
These exemptions and provisions protect small special interests while disadvantaging the people of North Carolina. This bill puts our clean water at risk and is bad for North Carolina’s economy. This bill does nothing to create jobs or protect the public. Instead, it writes a blank check to polluters from the taxpayers check book. That doesn’t create jobs, and that ain’t right.