Stormwater Regulation Fight.
The following article by Dan Besse is reproduced with permission from the Conservation Insider Bulletin, published on-line by the Conservation Council of North Carolina. It was part of a review of the conservation news of the year.
This was another complex struggle with at least two ongoing major action fronts:
(a) RRC rejects EMC rules; EMC, others sue RRC. In January, the 500-pound gorilla of environmental rulemaking, the Rules Review Commission (RRC) voted to flatly reject stormwater rules carefully crafted by the Environmental Management Commission (EMC) over two years of "stakeholder" processes and public hearings. In February, the EMC voted to challenge that action in state court; and in March the state Attorney General’s office filed suit against the RRC on behalf of the EMC. Simultaneously, environmental groups filed their own action, asking the court to declare the RRC’s "absolute veto" powers to be unconstitutional. Caught in this regulatory train wreck were 123 local governments who would have been guided by the vetoed rules, but which faced possible federal enforcement penalties in the absence of that guidance.
(b) "Compromise" stormwater legislation passes. When the General Assembly returned to town in May, rival interests filed contrasting versions of a legislative "fix" for the problem. In the end, a watered-down "compromise" bill was adopted, which authorized some stormwater rules (although not as extensive a set as environmentalists say are needed). The legislation also made clear that it did NOT pre-empt the pending lawsuits. As a result, we continue to move toward a showdown in court, both over the extent of stormwater management requirements in North Carolina, and over the excessive powers of an out-of-control "super-subcommittee"—the RRC.
Was anybody listening?
It was a great program that the EDC presented in the “Economic Summit” and the speakers were great. They eloquently detailed the reasons that we have to plan if we expect our area to grow the way we want it to. The disturbing part is that everyone was so happy to hear the message but there seem to be no suggestions as to how to implement it.
Here is a suggestion: the county and most of the towns are currently working on Land Use Plans for the next five years. This is an excellent place to do what the speakers suggested—plan to have the community grow in a positive way. I haven’t seen many people from the business or tourism industries at the county meetings although the EDC Director has made some good contributions.
The county is in the middle of a critical stage in the process—writing policies that will guide land use for the next few years. If you really thought the “Economic Summit” was meaningful, why not attend a county land use plan meeting and start working to make your vision come true?
Ecosystem Based Management.
The latest in environmental fashions seems to be Ecosystem Based Management. We mentioned earlier the State of the Oceans Report from the Federal Government and the Pew Trust report on the Oceans. Both of these studies concluded that Ecosystem Base management is essential if we are to restore the health of the marine environment.
The Coastal Habitat Protection Plan (CHPP) has been submitted to the three commissions that authorized the plan; it is undergoing final review and, hopefully, adoption by the Marine Fisheries Commission, the Environmental Management Commission and the Coastal Resources Commission. It is, of course, an Ecosystem Based Management plan.
Now the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council has established an Ecosystem—Based Management Committee, which met in June to review the draft action plan to implement a comprehensive Fishery Ecosystem Plan (FEP) for the South Atlantic.
Undoubtedly the way to plan for management of natural resources is in an eco-system way. We have no problem with that. What we do have a problem with is the probability that all these plans will be just that—paper plans with no, or very limited, application to the problems at hand. At the state level, look at a few of the highly-touted plans put forth to help the environment in the last few years. They include:
1988, the Governor’s Coastal Initiative,
1999, the APES study,
1994, the Coastal Futures Committee,
1995, the Governor’s Coastal Agenda,
and at the County level, we have the County Comprehensive Plan started in 2000 and completed with no noticeable results.
The problem is not that planning is bad but that, so far, no one bothers to do anything useful with the plan after completion
Congratulations to two former Board members who were honored to receive “Pelican Awards” at the NC Coastal Federation’s State of the Coast Summit.
Meg Rawls with Joe Barwick, President of the Community College, received an award for working to make the campus and shoreline more protective of the environment by using Best Management Practices to treat stormwater runoff from the campus.
John Fussell, III, received the award for his work with the NC Coastal Land Trust to protect nearly 900 acres of land along Pettiford Creek by conveying the land from the owner, Paxon Holz to the Land Trust.
Help us and win a prize too!
We need a logo for Crossroads’ publications. We also know that there are a lot of artistic people out there who have great ideas. If you can come up with a new logo for Crossroads we will reward you with a prize. More details to follow in subsequent newsletters. Please send any suggestions to Crossroads at PO Box 155, Beaufort or e-mail them to our President at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don’t forget the 25th Anniversary Annual Meeting at the Civic Center on
February 24th, 2005 at 6:30 pm
Come and enjoy!