This Earth Day, electeds and advocacy groups stand together for the environment

Raleigh--On the eve of the 41st Earth Day, with many of our core environmental laws under attack in both Raleigh and Washington, Environment North Carolina stood with U.S. Congressmen David Price and Brad Miller, along with NC Representative Jennifer Weiss, to speak out against these threats to North Carolina’s air, water, land and quality of life.

In North Carolina, the impacts of the proposed House budget would be dire for the environment—eroding protections for air quality, rivers and streams, and green spaces statewide.

“This budget means bad news for our environment,” said Margaret Hartzell, Policy Advocate with Environment North Carolina.  “It all but erases funds for protecting the natural areas that make our state special, and it takes hundreds of environmental cops off the beat.”

Meanwhile, numerous bills have been introduced that would undo landmark environmental laws in North Carolina, including the state’s requirement for wind and solar energy and protections for the Neuse and Tar-Pamlico Rivers.

“From the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, to the Clean Smokestacks Act, to the first Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Standard in the Southeast, North Carolina has always been a leader in environmental protection,” said Rep. Jennifer Weiss (D-Wake).  “Now is not the time to jeopardize the environment or public health.”

Today, members of the state’s Regulatory Reform Commission conduct the last of several public hearings about “burdensome” regulations, and environmental advocates fear more attempts at undoing environmental laws resulting from these hearings.  For example, the plan to clean up Jordan Lake, passed overwhelmingly in 2009, may be a target.

“North Carolina leaders have passed programs to protect and clean up Jordan Lake, to curb toxic air pollutants, and to protect our iconic green spaces with widespread, bi-partisan support,” said Elizabeth Ouzts, Environment North Carolina state director.  “These programs improve the quality of our environment and our lives, and should not be undone.”

In Washington, D.C., many of the nation’s premier environmental laws, including the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, are under attack.  The U.S. House’s first attempt at a continuing budget resolution amounted to the largest assault on clean air and water in recent memory.  The U.S. House recently voted to limit EPA’s authority to reduce dangerous global warming pollution.

“In this Congress efforts are already underway to roll back current environmental regulations.  While we should be willing to take a look at regulations that are overly burdensome, and understand that regulations have an economic impact, we cannot simply do away all environmental protection.  We have seen clusters of rare cancers and birth defects that we know are the result of an environmental exposure to something. It is important that we continue to move forward with identifying what pollutants are endangering our health and prevent them from entering our environment,” Rep. Miller said.

"The argument that clean air and water requirements threaten the economy are just as ridiculous today as they were in the 1970s, before the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act were enacted," Rep. Price said.  "Now is not the time to undo 40 years of progress toward a cleaner environment and better public health.  Earth Day is a reminder that we have a moral obligation to be good stewards of our environment, and to ensure Triangle families have clean air to breathe and clean water to drink."

Environment North Carolina is calling on state budget writers to restore funds to protect our, air, water, and open spaces; and calling on state and federal elected officials to reject attempts to undo our core environmental laws.