The news might have flown under the national radar, what with all the motorcycle safety laws that actually deal with abortion and horrible voter ID bill action that’s been happening in the North Carolina this summer, but the state’s environmental laws were another casualty of this legislative session.
First, the legislature passed a law tossing out all the members of the state’s Environmental Management Commission and nearly all of the members of the Coastal Resources Commission (which was better than the original law, which would have fired a bunch of other people as well). And before wrapping up last week, the legislature also approved a one-year moratorium on localities passing their own environmental rules. That bill is now sitting on Republican Gov. Pat McCrory’s desk awaiting approval.
The Charlotte Observer has a wrap up of all the environmental malfeasance that went down in this legislative session. Among other things, one bill that’s still awaiting McCrory’s signature “prohibits local governments, for a year, from passing environmental rules that state or federal governments also address.” That could be a big problem, the Observer reports:
But Robin Smith, a former assistant N.C. secretary of the environment who writes an environmental law blog, said restricting local rules could backfire. State rules often require that local ordinances be adopted, she said, and local conditions sometimes demand local rules.
“It is difficult to predict how big a problem the moratorium would be given the very different circumstances in cities and counties across the state, but it seems an unnecessary gamble,” she wrote last week.
Dan Crawford, director of governmental relations for the North Carolina League of Conservation Voters, tells Mother Jones that they’re now lobbying hard to get McCrory to veto the bill. “Federal guidelines are meant to be a floor, not a ceiling,” he said.
Crawford said this was the worst he’s seen in 15 years of lobbying on environmental issues. “I can’t think of a time where it’s been any worse,” he said. “We were in the bull’s eye.”