CHAPEL HILL – Two bills survived the crossover deadline this week in the NC General Assembly that some— including Sen. Ellie Kinnaird— say will negatively affect our local environment.
Kinnaird (Dem.) , who represent Orange and Chatham Counties, says one of the things she’s concerned about is Senate Bill 515. It passed in the Senate Wednesday.
“The environmental regulations that have protected our water, air, and soil for so long are just being completely swept aside. These people know that this affects everybody,” Kinnaird said.
The bill would immediately repeal the state’s water protection rules to lessen pollution and run-off into Jordan Lake—the water source for much of the Triangle.
Sponsors for the bill have said the current rules, which were put into place in 2009, are costing developers and cities hundreds of thousands of dollars and need to be changed.
“What we need to look at regionally is having a clean-safe drinking water regionally will have a great economic benefit than saving a little bit of money for one developer,” said local science expert Jeff Danner.
Danner says if the state repeals the current rule, it will allow lawn chemicals to wash in to the lake and this will have to be cleaned-up for drinking purposes. It will also create algae which is bad for fish, among other problems.
Both Kinnaird and Danner are additionally displeased with House Bill 201 that passed the House Wednesday night.
It seeks to revert the Energy Conservation Code for commercial buildings back to 2009 levels— meaning that buildings would be 30 percent less efficient than they are now required to built.
“Up until this recent legislation, North Carolina had been making some strides towards efficient buildings which not only saves money for the occupants—government or private buildings—but we were also developing an industry of people with specialty skills to build these efficient buildings,” Danner said. “This was the right direction for us to go in.”
Danner says emphasis should be put on construction using better building insulation, installing energy-efficient windows, and using natural light instead of depending on electric light.
“I think that’s really unfortunate move by the legislature. One of the most cost-effective measures anyone can make is in the industry field is putting money into efficient buildings upfront,” Danner said .
Concerns About Fracking
Kinnaird also touched on her worries about fracking.
Last year, hydraulic fracturing—otherwise known as “fracking”— was formally legalized in North Carolina. Since then, the N.C. Mining & Energy Commission has been charged with creating regulations for the procedure.
Several weeks ago, the Commission tried to put rules into place regarding the chemicals used during the fracking process—but the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources is trying to prevent the implementation of that first rule.
“The enabling legislation has already gone through. And now it’s a question of whether it will go through in an environmentally friendly way. Our first look is not too promising,” Danner said.
He believes the Commission’s rule was sound and should have been implemented.
“My concerns are if they are not passing a good rule on the disclosure of chemicals, that doesn’t speak well for the more important rules that will come up,” Danner said. “For example, the depth distance between where fracking can occur and where the aquifer is.”