Defending Our Waterways: Haw River Assembly’s 2024 Action Plan for Environmental Advocacy and Policy Change

February 2, 2024, by Emily Sutton:

Haw River Assembly wears many hats in the environmental community. One of those is staying up to date on policy and legislation that could benefit or harm our waterways and our communities.  Watch our online 2024 Legislative Training HERE.

In 2023, there were several harmful bills that moved through the NC General Assembly, including a few that made it more difficult for NCDEQ to deny water crossing permits for energy transmission projects, removed protections for wetlands, limited the amount of money local governments can charge for sedimentation permits, and banned any local efforts to minimize plastic pollution. Many of these bills were pushed by Homebuilders Association, a powerful lobbying group that gives a lot of money to legislative members. This year, the NC Speakership of the House is up for grabs, and Republican candidates are vying for that position, which is aided by funding from lobbying groups like the Homebuilders. This meant Republicans were hesitant to go against bills the Homebuilders pushed forward. 

In 2024, we have a shorter legislative session, which means no new legislation will be introduced. However, there were several bills that were introduced last year that didn’t make it across the finish line to the full floor for a vote. We still have much work to do to prevent damaging legislation from moving forward and to promote legislation that strengthens environmental protections. 

We will be hosting a lobby day in April (CLICK HERE TO REGISTER) to bring members of our watershed community to speak directly to their representatives about protecting the Haw River and the streams and creeks and lakes we love. 

During the short session, we’ll also be preparing for the long session next year. This means we’ll be drafting legislation to be introduced and finding new allies to work with. 

Most importantly, this year is an election year. This is a big year for presidential elections, but local and state level elections are incredibly important. This year, state representatives, county commissioners, and our state agricultural commissioner are all up for reelection. These are the representatives that create laws and ordinances that impact your life in the most meaningful way. We’re going to make sure you have the resources you need to stay informed. 

This year, we’ll be working on bills that target PFAS pollution, plastic waste, stormwater policies, climate resiliency, and bills for funding dam removals. 

In the coming months, we’ll be sharing issue based content, what candidates for specific offices can do to help solve problems, what solutions we are advocating for, questions you can ask the candidates who represent you, and reminders for upcoming elections. 

We have more power as a collective movement, and we need the support of our communities to see a change in our state to protect our waterways.

Here are 6 ways you can take action to stay active on this policy work: 

  • You’re the eyes and ears of the river. Show up to trainings, lobby days, volunteer events, become a member, document issues you are seeing in the basin,
  • Speak up in your circles – we can’t do better until we know better
  • Introduce your friends to the river – we protect what we love, we love what we know
  • Sign up for emails for candidates who would represent you 
  • TAG candidates in content you want them to know about, follow them on FB, IG 
  • Send them emails, letters, ask questions about your concerns

Look out on our social media for resources to stay engaged! 

Posted in From The River: Blog