State farm bill strips wetland protections, environmental groups say impact would be devastating
The U.S. Supreme Court recently sharply limited the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency to protect and preserve wetlands under the Clean Water Act.
The North Carolina Farm ACT was approved by the general assembly on Thursday and now goes to the governor’s desk. It includes a provision that says the state can’t adopt more stringent protections for wetlands than federal ones.
Sound Rivers’ Neuse River Keeper Samantha Kopp said that could have a devastating impact on eastern North Carolina.
“If North Carolina officials do not step in and take action to protect our wetlands and small streams, our communities are going to see worse and more frequent flooding, and we're going to see also water quality issues downstream,” she said.
Vote margins in both chambers signal that any veto by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper could be overridden.
Republican Rep. Jimmy Dixon of Duplin County, who shepherded the bill in the House, told colleagues on Wednesday that the impact of the wetlands provisions upon flood control and water quality was overstated.
’What we’re talking about here is isolated wetlands,” said Mike Carpenter, with the North Carolina Home Builders Association, which pushed for the wetlands change.
He added: "It’s not as gloom and doom and disastrous as our friends in the environmental community would like to believe it is.”
Public Radio East reached out to several officials with the North Carolina State University Extension to ask more about the positive impact the reduced wetland protections would have on agricultural producers but did not hear back by deadline.
**The Associated Press contributed to this report.