Saturday, May 05, 2007

Environmental and Energy Efficiency

Two of the bills I have sponsored saw some action this week; House Bill 838, dealing with incandescent light bulbs, and House Bill 1824, promoting low impact development.

House Bill 838 was revised and now requires the state to develop a disposal plan for the mercury contained in compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs). This is of critical importance if we are to promote their use. The Environmental Review Commission is also charged with studying lighting efficiency and reporting back to the short session of the General Assembly in May, 2008. The bill was approved by the House Committee on Energy and Energy Efficiency yesterday, and is on its way to the Rules Committee, where study bills are reviewed.

House Bill 1824 promotes the use of low impact development to control stormwater. There are many in the development business who promote this technique which relies more on the natural landscape than conventional engineered systems for controlling stormwater, since it is cheaper, more effective, and generally more attractive. The EPA and the National Homebuilders Association are promoting low impact development. The bill was approved by the House Commerce Committee and has been re-referred to House Environment.

The House unanimously approved a bill that would require hazardous waste storage companies to tell their neighbors and emergency response officials more about the materials they store. The bill House Bill 36 would also subject such companies to more inspections. The legislation follows an explosion and fire at EQ Industrial Services in Apex on October 9th that resulted in the evacuation of roughly 17,000 people. Emergency responders had little information about what the company had stored at the site, limiting their ability to extinguish the blaze. North Carolina has 10 remaining commercial hazardous waste storage warehouses that receive truckloads of chemicals and other materials from manufacturers and laboratories. The waste is consolidated and then shipped to incinerators, landfills, and recyclers in other states. The legislation now goes to the Senate for approval.

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