Thursday, February 26, 2009

Monday, February 23, 2009

NC Policy Watch - Jordan Lake Rules

Rob Schofield of NC Policy Watch published an article on the organization’s website Friday about "How Polluters and Ideologues are Attempting to Block the Clean-up of a Vital Water Resource." He discusses the criticism of the Jordan Lake Nutrient rules by the John Locke Foundation. His article can be found at www.ncpolicywatch.com/cms/2009/02/20/sabotaging-the-jordan-rules/.

Schofield referred to the site www.CleanJordanLake.org for information about the Jordan Lake rules. The site provides information about Jordan Lake, the dangers facing the lake, and the rules designed to protect the lake. These rules have been approved by the Environmental Management Commission and the Rules Review Commission. The General Assembly will decide this year whether to block the rules, allow the rules to go into effect, or compromise and adopt weaker rules.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

NC General Assembly Getting Organized

The NC General Assembly is now organized. Both the House and Senate have appointed committees that should soon be meeting and considering legislation of interest to us. Some of the issues are:

Jordan Lake Rules - Rules were adopted by the Environmental Management Commission and approved by the Rules Review Commission to reduce the nutrient pollution of Jordan Lake. Bills (HB 3 and SB 166) have been introduced in the General Assembly to disapprove the rules. If the bills are killed, the rules will go into effect. But there may be a compromise, with the General Assembly substituting weakened rules.

Water Allocation - No bill has been introduced yet, but there may be a bill to require permits for the withdrawal of large amounts of water from rivers, in order to share the water resources of a river throughout the river basin.

Transit - Bills (HB 148 and SB 151) have been introduced to allow counties, with voter approval, to charge an additional sales tax to pay for mass transit, including rail and busses. Support of this bill is a major effort of the Capital Group.

Auto emissions and efficiency - Bills may be introduced to adopt the California auto efficiency and emissions standards.

More information about these and other issues will be reported here.

Monday, February 2, 2009

NC General Assembly starts session

The North Carolina General Assembly started its "long" session last week. As of today, they have not announced the committee assignments, but bills are being introduced.

Of course, the big issue this session is the economy. How can they have a budget that is balanced in spite of the economic situation without cutting too deep and without raising taxes too much.

Several important environmental issues will come before the General Assembly.

Transit
The legislators will be asked to give the counties the authority to raise sales taxes (or perhaps some other tax) to fund mass transit (rail and bus).

Jordan Lake
Recently the Environmental Management Commission and the Rules Review Commission adopted rules to protect Jordan Lake from pollution (specifically, nutrients that lead to algae problems).

Water Allocation
There will likely be an attempt to amend laws about how water in our rivers is allocated to communities and industries along the river. In the past there was sufficient water in the rivers for everyone to use what they needed. However, with growth we are reaching limits. It appears that we need to change the law to require that large water users (some industrial users and communities) to obtain permits before they can withdraw large volumes of water.

These issues and others will be discussed here as they are addressed by the General Assembly.