The legislation recently passed in Senate Bill 781 certainly reforms current regulations — by undoing decades of hard work by North Carolinians to protect the wonderful natural resources that make our state beautiful and safe. This bill generates mountains of red tape and hoops to jump through, just for state agencies to do their jobs to protect the health and beauty of North Carolina’s natural areas. A flowchart that depicts new rule making procedures makes it obvious that “transparency” and “accountability” were simply empty campaign promises by this session’s senators and representatives. Now, with funding slashed and jobs cut within the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, the state agency charged with the protection of our health and our natural resources will no longer be able to do its job effectively.
The bill prohibits the generation of rules that are any stronger than federal bare minimums. However, the federal standards are intended to be just that — minimums. The rules laid out by the EPA do not take into account the unique and varied natural resources that draw tourism and businesses to our state. This bill sets N.C. up to incur enormous costs in order to establish the legislation. Lawmakers have essentially created more government regulations and increased costs by attempting to decrease regulations and cut spending.
Another disturbing portion of this bill is the removal of a venue for citizen participation in the rule making process. Apparently, our lawmakers trust us enough to ask for our vote, but not enough to allow us to have a voice regarding laws that will affect us directly.
Lawmakers are specifically targeting the environment with this bill. The effects on our natural resources are clear and frightening, while the potential for job creation is unclear and limited at best. If we expect to have an economically and environmentally sustainable future for our children and ourselves, we must consider our public and environmental health.