The North Carolina Senate has tentatively passed a sweeping, 62-page bill that would make several changes to state regulations.
The proposal includes provisions that cover a lot of ground – everything from banning cursing on the highways to increasing penalties for parking in handicapped spaces or for violating endangered species.
Many Senate leaders say the bill is meant to make state rule-making more efficient, while increasing protections for the environment and public.
But many environmental groups say the bill includes provisions that do the exact opposite, likening the bill to a “polluter’s wish list.”
They point to one particular provision that allows industries to avoid penalties for environmental violations as long as they self-report their pollution. The state would also keep audits related to violations confidential.
“There is the concern that removing the possibility of getting in trouble as long as they [industries or polluters] clean up, as long as they report it, will create questions as far as if best practices are going to be kept in place,” says Dustin Chicurel-Bayard of the Sierra’s Club North Carolina Chapter.
Senate leader Phil Berger praised the regulatory reform act, the fourth of its kind.
“It’s clear that making long overdue changes to our state’s regulatory and tax environment is driving positive change, and this common sense bill is another step to strengthen opportunities for new investment and job growth,” he said.
The bill still requires a final vote from the Senate before heading to the state House.
CORRECTION, May 26: 4 p.m.: An earlier version of this gave an incorrect name for Dustin Chicurel-Bayard of the Sierra’s Club North Carolina Chapter. This post has been updated to reflect the correct name.