Friday, July 14, 2006

Enviornmental Issues 7-14-06

It continues to look gloomy in the NC House for those interested in environmental issues. We took steps toward passing several bad bills this week. One would exempt Duke Energy from complying with our state clean air rules (S.1587). (While a bit more complicated than that, that is the gist of it, and it has passed its first reading). Another, mentioned last week, SB1862, would allow developers in the nutrient sensitive Neuse and Tar Pam basins to offset their nutrient discharges for woefully inadequate fees has passed its second reading. HB 1778, weakens North Carolina’s very strong groundwater standards, and is on its way to House Finance after being approved in House Environment on Thursday. Another bill considered in House Environment, HB2886, would disapprove a Department of Labor rule which protects workers from radiation from cell and broadcast towers. When asked what the health effects of radiation are, the response was "it cooks the workers from within". Clean Cars, HB 2185, a top priority of many environmental advocacy groups, appears to be out of time, due to pressure from the automobile industry.

Things are looking better in the Senate, though, which passed a moratorium on landfills on second reading yesterday (HB1093). In addition, a bill (S1564) to strengthen public notice requirements regarding the siting of landfills moved. Also, a bill to increase CAMA fines, HB1523, passed the Senate yesterday. Those fines haven't been raised in some time and it has been much cheaper to violate the rules than comply with them.

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