Sunday, May 15, 2011

Legislative Actions Threaten Western North Carolina Landslide Hazard Mapping Program

Current Operations and Capital Improvements Appropriations Act of 2011

The Appropriations Act of 2011  was passed by the House on May 4, 2011.

This bill presses for education-spending reductions, outsourcing of state jobs, and tobacco income/loss compensation. Public forest development will be under the supervision of specially-created private limited dividend corporations.

In addition the House majority wants to significantly enhance development activities by removing regulatory impediments.

North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources

Deregulatory action will be accomplished by underfunding the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources budget by more than $15,000,000. If the bill is passed as written, the agency tasked with protecting public health and well-being will be sentenced to insignificance.

In other words, private interests will be making decisions for the state.

North Carolina Toxic Pollution

Residents statewide are exposed to health-impairing industrial wastes. Studies document that poisonous manufacturing byproducts contaminate North Carolina air, water and soils. Rather than penalize industry polluters, the state burdens taxpayers with cleanup costs.

Western North Carolina Critical Air Quality

During warm-weather months, smog from coal-burning power plants seriously impair lung function. Because of elevation, Western North Carolina residents are at greater risk of exposure. The situation is so critical that on January 30, 2006 Attorney General Roy Cooper filed a lawsuit on behalf of the citizens of North Carolina against the Tennessee Valley Authority. In his press release Mr. Cooper stated that “TVA’s pollution is making North Carolinians sick, damaging our economy and harming our
environment.” Mr. Cooper did not note that North Carolina coal plants are also releasing harmful particulates.

The following photograph shows Western North Carolina smog conditions in the summer of 2008.
On July 21, 2008, the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources issued a Code Orange air-quality alert for Western North Carolina counties. This July 21, 2008 Asheville Citizens-Times photo shows smog covering downtown Asheville.

Shale Gas/Oil Extraction: Fracking

Hydrocarbon extraction by way of horizontal drilling is prohibited in North Carolina. Members of the General Assembly want to change that rule. Mitch Gillespie, co-author of House Bill 200, supports fracking and industry reduced-regulation petitions even though these practices are known to contaminate private and public drinking water sources.

Western North Carolina Landslide Hazard Maps

Senate affirmation of the Appropriations Act will likely restrict efforts by the North Carolina Geological Survey to proceed with hazardous-land identification.

Since the passage of the 2005 Hurricane Recovery Act which authorized the nineteen-county Western North Carolina Landslide Hazard Map initiative, state geologists have identified unstable land condition sites in Macon, Watauga, and Buncombe Counties.

Landslide hazard identification maps protect the public from making unwise financial decisions.These material fact maps are not welcomed by the North Carolina Association of Realtors.

Jackson County, NC Real Estate Landslide Concerns

The North Carolina Geological Survey is presently evaluating Jackson County landslide incidents. Without adequate funding these safety reports will not be forthcoming.


Decisions made by petrochemical, pharmaceutical, financial, nuclear and housing industries do not inspire trust or confidence. So the question is why should
the state rely on corporate judgment?

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