Environmental Bills On Agenda As Lawmakers Return To Raleigh

Environmental Bills On Agenda As Lawmakers Return To Raleigh

6:08pm Apr 22, 2016
Environmental advocates are worried that a proposed bill could impact the criteria for "do not drink" notices the state has issued in recent years. But officials say it will help reduce confusion after the notices were issued and later rescinded near coal ash sites. (Keri Brown/WFDD)

The North Carolina General Assembly opens its short session this week with several environmental bills up for consideration.

One of the proposed measures targets drinking water. It prohibits health advisories from being issued for contaminants, unless it exceeds federal or state standards. However, those standards don’t exist for some toxins like hexavalent chromium. Elevated levels of the metal have been detected in some wells near coal ash sites.

Critics say they’re concerned the bills could weaken existing environmental protections.

Sandra Cooke, an environmental science professor at High Point University, says she’s troubled by the bill’s broad language.

“Who knows what all that could encompass,” says Cooke. “There could be hundreds or thousands of contaminants out there that aren’t regulated at the federal level, but could be a concern in North Carolina.”

State officials say the bill is intended to reduce confusion. In the past, uncertainty has come out of "do not drink" notices that were issued and then later rescinded.

Meanwhile, a separate measure focuses on requirements for stream dredging and filling.

There’s also a draft bill for how to deal with stormwater. It would stop the requirement of certain control measures that protect downstream water from possible pollution, unless it’s regulated under state or federal law.

The legislature will officially convene for its short session Monday at 7:00 p.m.

*You can follow WFDD's Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news

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