News: State Budget is Minefield for NC Environment

Statement of N.C. Sierra Club State Director Cynthia Satterfield on the N.C. state budget, which Gov. Roy Cooper has said he will allow to become law without his signature:

The long-delayed state budget presents a minefield of environmental threats, and undercuts our constitutionally protected democratic processes.
We understand Governor Cooper's rationale for allowing it to become law without his signature; hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians have been waiting too long for Medicaid expansion to be enacted. 
We are appalled by our legislative leadership's callous disregard for the budget bill's impact on all North Carolinians by exposing them to new and increased environmental threats, and by stalling our progress toward a clean energy economy.
This budget is a power play at the expense of the long-term well-being of our state and everyone who lives in it.

The N.C. Sierra Club's specific concerns include:

  • Sections that will block the governor and state agencies from encouraging clean energy development to fight climate change. 
  • One prevents the governor and state agencies from making utilities participate in a program that requires offsets to CO2 emissions. 
  • Another blocks entry into agreements with other states, which will stop North Carolina's work to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
  • An increase in fees paid by electric vehicle owners, plus a new fee on hybrid vehicles. These penalize individual North Carolinians who are trying to cut their carbon footprint.
  • A “deemed approved” provision for stormwater permits that have been in process for more than 70 days - speeding up development at the expense of drinking water safety.
  • A ban on local goverments' ability to write ordinances that restrict single-use plastics. Several governments are currently considering such measures, including Buncombe County. The language could also undermine broader littering regulations.