Bad state legislation messing up local environment

A friend shared this. It is really tough to protect our local environment with bad state bills.

The time to stop HB 765, the Polluter Protection Act, is now.

NC League of Conservation Voters  From

Conservation Action: Stop the Polluter Protection Act!

The big environmental fight surely looming over the remainder of this legislative year deals with HB 765, now better known as the Polluter Protection Act.

Why is that? In brief, imagine this: A corporate polluter – one of those occasional bad actors whose irresponsible behavior undercuts the efforts of the more ethical majority of businesses – has been carelessly dumping unpermitted pollution into your local river. It realizes that it is finally about to be caught, either by concerned citizens or one of the overworked remaining state environmental enforcement staff. It quickly runs a "self-audit" and confesses to its regrettable "mistake" of dumping excess pollution into the river feeding the local water supply. Hey, presto! Said corporate polluter gets immunity and is let off the hook from fines and penalties on the basis of its promise to do better from now on.

This isn’t satire; that kind of provision is actually contained in the Polluter Protection Act. And that’s not all; here are some of the other worst provisions of this so-called "rules reform" bill:

·        It severely limits state protections for isolated wetlands and intermittent streams, both of which can be critical to protecting clean water in other streams and rivers across the state.

·        It attempts to chill private individuals from contesting state projects or permits for polluting activities, by requiring courts to force the citizens to pay the state’s attorney fees if they lose the challenge. (Such awards of "attorney’s fees" are normally considered by the court in its discretion, and granted only when the claims filed were frivolous.)

·        It further tilts the field in favor of applicants for air pollution permits by mandating that a permit issued by the state will go into effect even when it is challenged in court by a private party who would be injured by it. (It’s almost unheard of for a court to order a permitted plant or operation to shut down after it’s up and running.)

·        It would require the state’s air quality protection agency to shut down about half of the air quality permitting stations now in operation. (And unfortunately, what we don’t know that we’re breathing in our air can indeed still hurt us. Plus, such willful blind spots in our monitoring network makes effective regulation that much more difficult.)

For more details on these and other polluter protection items in HB 765, see here

The original HB 765 was a short and limited bill passed by the state House. Unfortunately, the Senate took that small bill and mutated it into a long and complex one including a broad variety of bad environmental items. The House did not go along with the revisions, and the two versions of HB 765 went to a conference committee of members from the House and the Senate. Now that the budget is done, conservationists expect some version of HB 765, likely a bad version, to come back for another round of voting in both chambers.

The severely bad contents of HB 765 are why the citizen conservation community is united in calling on our members and supporters to let your legislators know how important it is to stop the Polluter Protection Act before it’s too late.

You can take a key conservation action now by contacting your state House member and Senator, in opposition to HB 765. A quick note or call will suffice. Be sure to refer to the bill by its number (HB 765) and let them know that even though it’s called formally named "rules reform", you know that it’s so full of pollution-promoting provisions that it has come to be known as the Polluter Protection Act. Urge them to vote no when HB 765 comes back for a vote.

If you don’t know the contact information for your representative, you can find out here.



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