It is so incredibly important for YOU, right now, to contact your representatives. Our wetlands need your voice!

Act now! The NC Farm Act has passed the Senate, so House representatives could still remove the language that strips protections from our wetlands! We need to prevent this from happening!

Take language directly from Emily’s legislative blog (here) to call or email your representatives. The most effective messages will include information about who you are as a constituent, and why these rulings impact you and your livelihood. And as a general rule, be kind. 

Many of the bills that we had thought were dead have been resurrected through financial appropriations bills. What this means is that bills that did not make it through the crossover deadline, can be added into budgets and appropriations bills if those bills have any finances associated with them. These bills are not subject to that deadline. For information on crossover deadlines, and just a general overview of how bills become laws, check this blog for a review.

SB 582- Farm Act 

– This bill includes language that would limit the jurisdiction of NCDEQ to regulate only those water bodies that the federal government deems as Waters of the US. This means we will lose protections for most of our wetlands in the state. Wetlands are incredibly essential for wildlife habitat, water quality improvement, flood resiliency, and so much more. Section 15 of the Farm Act, addressing the definitions of Waters of the United States, needs to be removed. 

Additionally, the Farm Act also includes a provision that would limit the financial penalty of buffer violations to not exceed the timber value of the trees cut. This essentially removes any enforcement by adding regulatory oversight to assess and quantify timber that was cut in a buffer. Many of our buffers are small trees, vines, and other vegetation that would not have timber value to warrant the staff time needed to enforce that violation. 

Section 11 of the Farm Act, limiting penalties for removal of timber in a riparian buffer, needs to be removed. 

HB579 DEQ/EPA Agreements 

This bill has been resurrected from the grave, though not without controversy. This bill is likely unconstitutional, as it removed permitting requirements for developments. The federal NCG01 permit is required for all developments, but is often seen as a rubber stamp exercise, and can even be done completely online now without ever actually having a meeting or visiting a site. The state and local permits allow for further analysis and review. These additional permits would no longer be required for developments. Additionally, this bill would remove all environmental stakeholders from the Sedimentation Control Commission, replacing us with homebuilders. This commission reviews the efficacy of local sedimentation programs and reviews new sedimentation guidelines. This would be like having foxes in charge of security at the hen house. 

This bill is unconstitutional and can not be passed. 

HB349 / SB 658 – PFAS Foam bills 

These bills will also be included in the budget. As currently written, there is a buyback program for firefighters to safely get rid of their PFAS containing firefighting foams. However, NCDEQ has no oversight authority of this process and new experimental technologies will be used to dispose of it. DEQ should have oversight to ensure communities are protected. 

This would also fund a training facility in Stanley County, where PFAS foams will be used in training and to assess human exposure risks. This facility should be completely PFAS free. These foams are not necessary and North Carolina could be forward thinking in providing a facility to use PFAS free alternatives for firefighters nationwide. 

Please contact your House and Senate representatives to let them know that these bills need to be changed in the ways mentioned above. 

Find your representatives here!

Posted in From The River: Blog

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