Friday, May 26, 2006

Enviornmental Bills I Introduced This Week

HB 2493, (with Reps. Hill (D-Columbus), Brubaker (R-Randolph), and Underhill (D-Craven), and 83 cosponsors), will provide funding for the Farmland Preservation Trust Fund. We are losing farmland faster than 46 others states, and this bill would make it easier for farmers to stay in the business of farming, by increasing the opportunities for conservation easements, the transfer of development rights, promoting sustainable farming practices, and other options.

HB 2676, (with Reps. Tucker (D-Duplin) and Wright (D-New Hanover) and HB 2784 (with Reps. Justice (R-Pender) and Wright (D-New Hanover), both of which are intended to phase out hog lagoons, an unhealthy and environmentally destructive way of handling hog waste. We have superior and healthier technologies to the current systems, and we must convert to them. HB2676 would also impose a 6 year moratorium on new hog farms.

HB 2812, the Energy Future Act (with Reps. Luebke (D-Durham), Insko (D-Orange), and Fisher (D-Buncombe). This bill, which would require the state to study a more sustainable energy future, would also take into account considerations of public health and environmental impacts as well as demand reduction through energy efficiencies and renewables.

HB 2814, Shellfish Protection Programs (with Reps. Underhill (D-Craven), Wainwright (D-Craven), and Justice (R-Pender), and similar to HB1569 filed last year). This bill would provide funding and several additional positions at the Division of Marine Fisheries and Sea Grant to continue our progress at bringing back our shellfish industry. Oyster production has plummeted in the past century, but we have turned a corner, and are more strategic about protecting sensitive and productive areas.

HB 2185, CAMA Civil Penalties (with Reps. Wilkins (D-Person), Luebke (D-Durham), and Justice (R-Pender). This bill would raise the cap on fines associated with violations of the Coastal Management Act from $250 to $2000 for a minor incident, and from $2,500 to $20,000 for major development violations. This has been a priority of the Coastal Resources Commission (on which I sat) for years. It is now much cheaper to violate the rules than comply with them..

HB 2624, Underground Storage Tank Program Funds, (with Reps. Gibson (D-Anson), Owens (D-Pasquotank), and Warren (D-Pitt).This bill appropriates $15,000,000 from the General Fund to the Commercial Leaking Petroleum Underground Storage Tank Cleanup Fund (Commercial Fund) to help cover the shortfall in funding for cleanups of UST sites in the State and to facilitate the transition to reliance on private insurance. In addition, the bill appropriates $100,000 from the Commercial Fund to DENR to cover increased program operating costs and the cost of any legislative salary increases for UST Section personnel. I have been contacted by several constituents with tanks needing removal, but there has been a shortfall of funding and consequently a backlog for years.

HB 2322, Fund Stream Mapping, (with Reps. Gibson (D-Anson), Justice (R-Pender), and Warren (D-Pitt). This bill appropriates $16,236,500 from the General Fund to DENR to implement the plan developed by the Geographic Information Coordinating Council to update and improve the maps for streams and surface waters in the State.

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