Friday, August 03, 2007

Environment 8-03-07

North Carolina has some of the most beautiful natural habitats in the nation. We have set aside $120 million for the Land for Tomorrow program to protect our forests, parks and greenways, historic areas, wildlife sanctuaries, and land bordering streams. A longtime priority of mine, farmland preservation, received $8 million, its first substantial appropriation in a decade. We will spend $100 million to help municipalities improve their water and sewer systems. We also continue to study better ways to improve the treatment of swine waste and put $2 million toward that this year (although, regrettably, we were not able to require a date certain phase out of the swine lagoons). We provided funding for drinking water testing, notification, and emergency supplies for low income communities, something I have pushed for these past several sessions. And, we finally funded another priority of mine, seven new positions for sedimentation inspectors to help address our number one water quality problem in North Carolina.

We gave the State Energy Office $2.7 million for operating costs and $5 million to start a reserve fund to pay for energy efficiency programs. I pushed very hard for that funding, particularly after the utilities were able to persuade the Senate to eliminate all funding for the office. The Center for Bioenergy Technologies will receive $1.5 million to develop technologies for efficient and clean use of traditional energy sources, alternative and renewable energy sources, and researching energy technologies and their impact on the environment and North Carolina's economy.

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