State Regulators Ask For More Funding As Report Highlights Cuts

State Regulators Ask For More Funding As Report Highlights Cuts

3:22pm Dec 17, 2019
The Haw River in Pittsboro. Several residents in this community are worried about 1,4 dioxane and PFAS contaminants detected in the waterway, which is used as drinking water source. KERI BROWN/WFDD

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality says a funding shortfall in the state budget leaves little room to address growing concerns. This comes as a new report shows the state spent less on pollution control programs compared to other states.

NCDEQ says it’s underfunded and understaffed. The agency is dealing with a backlog of permits, as well as growing concerns over contaminants in drinking water. It’s also getting environmental oversight pressure from booming industries, like agriculture.

Most recently, the agency asked for $6 million for 37 new full-time positions to help deal with PFAS contamination in waterways. Instead, the legislature earmarked a little over $400,000 dollars, which is on hold until the budget stalemate is resolved.

But lawmakers say they plan to revisit the issue after a statewide study on emerging contaminants is completed. It’s part of a project funded by the General Assembly called The North Carolina Policy Collaboratory.

The recent report from the Environmental Integrity Project says the state reduced funding for the agency by more than 30 percent over a decade. It also says more than 400 jobs were eliminated between 2008 through 2018.

Follow WFDD’s Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news

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