What North Carolina’s New State Budget Means for Natural and Environmental Resources (NER)
From the Atlantic to the Appalachians, North Carolina has some of the most stunning and important natural resources in the world. It’s our job to protect and preserve these resources for future generations.
This year, legislators in Raleigh voted to cut more than $75 million from our Natrual and Environmental Resource budget, which includes the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Clean Water Management Trust Fund and several other state departments, including Commerce and Labor.
Total Reduction to the Natural & Environmental Resource Budget: $76 million in FY12; $118.8 million in FY13.
What It Means for Land Conservation
The budget reduces land conservation funding by over 85% and prevents the Clean Water Management Trust fund from acquiring land except from around military bases.
- In February alone, the Clean Water Management Trust Fund received $60 million in land conservation applications. Its annual allocation for 2012 is only $11.5 million.
- Areas from the Blue Ridge Parkway to Chimney Rock to the Green Swamp Gamelands will be vulnerable to development and pollution.
- The loss of these areas means fewer opportunities for hunting, fishing, hiking and other types of recreation in addition to the loss of ecologically important habitats and water buffers.
What It Means for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)
The budget places all seven of DENR’s regional offices on justification review, which means that the offices receive only one year of funding and will have to justify their existence in 2012. Furthermore, the budget cuts at least three positions from each regional office, over $1 million in vacant and filled positions across the agency, and another 18 positions in the State Parks system.
- Enforcement of our clean air and clear water regulations will suffer.
- Customer service for permits will decline.
- Safety in our state parks will be reduced.
The Hardison Amendment and what it will do:
The budget enacts the ‘Hardison Amendment,’ which prohibits the state from implementing any regulations stronger than federal standards.
- Special places in North Carolina that demand unique protections will suffer.
- Existing clean air and clean water rules will be weakened.
This was a choice: By maintaining the temporary tax package, which included the penny sales tax increase and a surcharge on high-income households and companies, or by including long-term revenue solutions in their budget, all of these cuts to education could have been avoided.