After Hurricanes Harvey and Irma recently pummeled our coasts, Environment North Carolina warned that pending budget proposals from the Trump administration and Congress threaten key programs that protect our communities from storm- related impacts. The group documented threats to programs that prevent or curb flooding, sewage overflows and leaks from toxic waste sites. Environment North Carolina also called for preventing more global warming-fueled extreme weather in the future.
“If there is any lesson to be learned from these devastating hurricanes, it’s that North Carolina deserves better shelter from the storms,” said Kristine Oblock from Environment North Carolina. “Rather than protecting our most vulnerable communities, budget proposals on the table in Washington,D.C.right now threaten coastal resiliency, remove protections for flood-absorbing wetlands, neglect funding for stormwater and sewage treatment, and expose more Americans to toxic chemicals,” she added.
Environment North Carolina’s analysis found:
Here in North Carolina we receive $2.54 million in grants that allow our communities to protect their coasts from storms and rising seas. These funds would be cut or eliminated under both the House and Trump administration’s budgets.
The Clean Water State Revolving Fund provided $24.1 million in 2016 for North Carolina to repair and build stormwater and sewage treatment infrastructure. Nationwide, our wastewater systems face a $271 billion backlog, yet the House and President’s spending bills fail to provide proper funding to this critical program.
One in four Americans live within 3 miles of a Superfund site, the most toxic waste sites in the country. North Carolina has 48 such sites, and the Superfund program is tasked with cleaning up these sites, responding to environmental crises, and protecting the public from hazardous substances, but the Trump administration has proposed cutting the Superfund program by nearly one-third.
Larry Cahoon, Professor of Biology and Marine Biology at The University of North Carolina Wilmington highlighted the vulnerability of our infrastructure to handle the added stress of floods. He stated: “Human waste treatment systems are a costly form of infrastructure, vital to public health that is relatively invisible but increasingly vulnerable to flooding”.
“We need to make our communities less susceptible to flooding, sewage overflows, and leaks from toxic waste sites, and of course we need to prevent even more intense global warming-fueled extreme weather in the future. We’re counting on congress to protect North Carolinians and pass a budget that puts our families’ health and community's safety first;one that will give North Carolinians more shelter from the storms ahead.” Kristine Oblock concluded.