(RALEIGH, NC – June 22, 2016) – The North Carolina Senate will vote today on House Bill 593 Amend Environmental and Other Laws. Section 4 of this bill dramatically increases the amount of stream destruction allowable without offsetting mitigation, extending the threshold for mitigation from 150 to 300 feet of impact.
In addition to extending the threshold for mitigation, the bill also changes the standard to only require mitigation of additional impacts beyond the new 300-foot threshold. For example, a development project that impacts 301 feet of stream would only require 1 foot of mitigation, instead of the total 301-foot impact.
“This legislation would allow nearly a football field of stream length to be destroyed without requiring any mitigation,” said Will McDow, director of habitat markets at Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).
EDF has been working with the mitigation industry and North Carolina’s Department of Mitigation Services to enhance quantification of stream functions and restoration projects.
“If enacted, this policy change would not only open the door to significant environmental harm but would also significantly reduce demand for the mitigation and restoration services currently provided by North Carolina’s robust private sector mitigation market,” McDow said.
John Preyer is co-founder and president of Restoration Systems, a Raleigh-based company that provides mitigation needed for regulatory compliance for development related impacts to wetlands, streams and riparian buffers.
“Regulatory certainty is crucial to our work and to North Carolina’s economy. House Bill 593 removes that certainty and threatens to undermine the environmental mitigation industry in North Carolina,” Preyer said. “By doubling the amount of stream which can be destroyed without requiring offsetting mitigation, this bill would dramatically cut the market for mitigation, putting North Carolina’s jobs, economy and environment at great risk.”
After the North Carolina Senate votes today, the bill will move to the North Carolina House for a vote in the coming weeks.
“North Carolina’s current mitigation policy has created a friendly business climate, a private restoration industry and an efficient means to protect North Carolina’s waterways,” said McDow. “HB 593 not only jeopardizes our state’s waterways, but also the livelihoods of those who work to protect them.”
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