This bill has a number of provisions that likely endanger water quality and will create hurdles for citizens to sue corporations for pollution.
When it passed the House unanimously, H374 was a non-contentious bill that made technical and conforming changes to labor laws. As introduced in Senate Commerce committee, however, the bill is a wide ranging regulatory reform bill.
Critics are concerned about the following sections:
Section 3: Landfill operations less transparent, potentially endangering health
Landfills, by definition, contain quite a bit of waste, and therefore need close monitoring to ensure that the viruses, bacteria, heavy metals, and other waste do not end up outside of the landfill. This bill would:
Section 4: Gives Duke Energy some potential off-ramps for fully cleaning up the 2014 Dan River coal ash spill
In February 2014, Duke Energy spilled almost 39,000 tons of coal ash into the Dan River, a river used for fishing, agriculture, and drinking on the Virginia/North Carolina border. Coal ash is the waste product of burned coal, and contains heavy metals and other contaminants harmful to health. Duke Energy is responsible for the costs of cleanup of this spill, but this bill could let Duke Energy find their way out of this responsibility.
Section 8: Wastewater System Permit Extensions hook up old and obsolete septic systems to new buildings, meaning they could leak human waste into rivers, streams and drinking water
Owners of construction projects that might have gone under or stalled after the 2007 recession can use their decade-old permits in new construction permits:
Section 11: Stormwater runoff from airports allowed without any mitigation, meaning more heavy metals and chemicals in rivers, streams and drinking water
Airports have a substantial amounts of paved surface while also having high amounts of exhaust from planes. The result being when it rains on airport runways, heavy metals and chemicals from plane exhaust ends up on the tarmac and then running off into nearby ditches, rivers and streams. This bill:
Section 12: Difficult for citizens to sue corporations or entities that are responsible for pollution
Operations that pollute the air or water often require permits, and these permits come with a public comment period. This bill makes it easier for polluters to avoid responsibility by using this comment period in the following ways: