Saturday, May 30, 2009

Falls Lake Nutrient Strategy

Rules to reduce the development of algae blooms on the Falls Lake reservoir are now in the early stages of development. These rules, like the Jordan Lake rules that were developed earlier, will address the flow of nutrients, particularly nitrogen and phosphate compounds, into the lake and the streams that flow into the lake.

Part of the development of the rules is the stakeholder process, a series of meetings with representatives from county and municipal governments, home builder organizations, environmental organizations, and others. I attend these meetings, representing WakeUP Wake County. This stakeholder process is facilitated by the Triangle J Council of Governments; the rules are being written by the Division of Water Quality (DWQ) of the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Math models of the Falls Lake watershed and of the lake will be used to estimate the effect of different amounts of nutrient loading on the lake.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Falls Lake Stakeholder Website

The Falls Lake Nutrient Management Strategy stakeholder process has its own web site. provides information about the development of the pollution control rules for the Falls Lake, including all of the presentations made at the stakeholder meetings, and the dates of the future meetings.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Green Tie Awards

At the Conservation Trust for North Carolina Green Tie awards dinner on May 20, awards were given to the following people for their work helping the environment: Rep. Angela Bryant, Rep. Ruth Samuelson, Rep. Cullie Tarleton, Rep. Jennifer Weiss, Sen. Ellie Kinnaird, Rep. Paul Leubke, and Attorney General Roy Cooper.

Read about the awards and those who received them here.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The bill with a funny name

One bill that is considered to be environment related is titled “File Lis Pendens for Certain Erosion Actions”. (There are two bills, HB 789 and SB 586). But does anyone know what “lis pendens” means?

Yes, lis pendens is one of those Latin terms that lawyers like to use. Literally, it means “suit pending”. The term is used to means the filing of notice on property records that a law suit is pending against the property. If the property is being sold, the lis pendens notice will warn potential purchasers that a suit is pending against the property and that the suit may affect them.

This bill, if passed, will require the filling of notice of pending litigation that seeks injunctive relief regards sedimentation and erosion control for certain land-disturbing activities. The purpose is to ensure that potential new buyers are aware of a pending action and that they may be forced to fix certain violations.

The bill is supported by environmental organizations, and passed both the House and Senate, with only one opposing vote in the House and two opposing votes in the Senate. Since they were different, but identical bills, it will be only a formality for either the House or the Senate to pass the bill that came from the other chamber and send it to the Governor for signature.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Crossover Day

Under the General Assembly rules any bill that does not make appropriations or change the tax law must pass either the House or Senate by a deadline, known as Crossover day, in order to be considered by the other side. Bills that fail to pass the chamber in which they were introduced by crossover are dead. This year that date was Thursday, May 14.

The rush to get bills to the other side results in long, busy committee meetings early in the week and then long House and Senate sessions on the Wednesday and Thursday of crossover.

Twenty eight environment related bills made crossover. These bills have already been considered by one or two committees and been the subject of rewrites and compromises. They are now being considered by the other chamber (House bills are in the Senate, Senate bills are in the House). A list of those 28 bills can be found here.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Jordan Lake rules pass House

The Jordan Lake rules bill, HB 239, passed 2nd and 3rd readings in the House and now goes to the Senate, where it will be considered by the Ag/Envir/Nat Res. Committee.

The goal of the environmental community will be to prevent the retrofit rules from being watered down (pun intended) by the Senate. If the bill is killed, (very unlikely) the original, stronger, rules go into effect.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A bad bill - blocks rules that increase cost

One truly bad bill (still in play because it passed the Senate today) is SB 866, "APA Rules: Increasing Costs Prohibition". This bill, introduced by Sen. David Hoyle, would prevent any agency from adopting any rule that increased costs for any person, unless the rule responds to "A serious and unforeseen threat to the public health, safety, or welfare" or is required by law or court decision.

This could result in the inability of state agencies from adopting any regulation not directly required by law. All regulations have some cost, even if it only the cost of printing a copy of the regulation or the time for an employee to send e-mail informing others of the regulation. There is no requirement of significant cost; any cost will trigger the regulation.

One exception is for regulations responding to "A serious and unforeseen threat...". However, threats to public health and safety are not "unforeseen". There is at least some foresight needed for a regulation to be written.

Apparently Sen. Hoyle just doesn't like regulations, and this is one way to stop them. Unfortunately it will stop many regulations needed for public health and safety.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Jordan Lake rules agreement

It now appears that there is an agreement between environmental groups and others (particularly Durham) on the Jordan Lake rules.

The agreement will be unveiled this afternoon at the meeting of the NC House Judiciary I committee. The committee will meet at 3pm in room 1228.

The Environmental Management Commission released a set of rules to reduce the nutrient pollution in Jordan Lake. The rules were approved by the Rules Review Commission. After approval, the rules were on hold because of "disapproval" bills in the General Assembly. These bills, if they passed, would have prevented any of the rules from going into effect.

One bill, HB 239, was introduced by Reps. Allen and Gibson as a disapproval bill. However, the disapproval language was replaced with language that would approval all rules other than the "existing development" or "retrofit" rule. That language was the subject of negotiations between representatives of the environmental community and Durham and other upstream communities.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Terminal Groins

Terminal Groins, sometimes known as Jetties, are hardened devices on beaches that are often at the end, but sometimes in the middle, of a beach. They are used to hold sand and prevent erosion of beaches. However, while they can protect one section of a beach they often cause such harm as additional erosion on other nearby parts of a beach.

43 scientists who study beach erosion have signed a statement that terminal groins should not be allowed. Current NC law does not allow terminal groins because of the effect.

(edit, 5/8/09)Some good information and examples of terminal groins can be found here

However, Sen. Julia Boseman of Wilmington introduced a bill SB 832,to allow such structures. In spite of strong opposition from the scientific and environmental community, Sen. Mark Basnight and others supported it. In the Senate it was passed by a vote of 37 to 10, and now goes to the House.

The following Senators voted against the bill despite of pressure from the Senate leadership: Allran; Atwater; Berger, D.; Brock; Clodfelter; Graham; Hunt; Kinnaird; Stein; Vaughan.