What We Do
Ensuring Environmental Enforcement
We work hard to advocate for stronger environmental laws to be passed by our State Legislature, but these laws are only effective if they are adequately enforced, and polluters are held accountable for ignoring the law.
NCLCVF has prioritized environmental enforcement issues—at the Legislature, through our partnerships with other organizations, working directly with state agencies that enforce the laws, and through public education.
We work closely with DENR to inform and improve their enforcement programs, and support both administrative and legislative advocacy efforts to improve existing enforcement programs. Currently, Robin Smith, our Enforcement Program Director, Chairs the Sedimentation Control Commission, the state board responsible for administering the Sedimentation Control Program.
At the Legislature
North Carolina has a history of underfunding the compliance and enforcement divisions of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), often allowing violators to go unnoticed and unpunished. There is often limited political will to support strong environmental enforcement, especially when the “pollution lobby” consistently out spends and out resources environmental advocates who push for stronger environmental protections and better enforcement. Strong environmental policies do little to protect our environment without strong enforcement.
The 2011 Legislative Session has seen unprecedented attacks on DENR and their budget, drastic rollbacks on the regulations that previously protected our natural resources and communities for decades. Rollbacks on environmental regulations diminish North Carolina’s ability to establish new protections that address our unique landscapes by limiting our protections to general federal standards. The protections we have had in place for decades— that are specific to our unique landscapes from the Outer Banks to the Blue Ridge Mountains— have made North Carolina consistently ranked one of the top locations to live and do business. Environmentalists, business leaders, and other community leaders have come together this year to try to persuade our elected officials that strong environmental protections are a critical component of North Carolina’s economy and our way of life. Unfortunately, we have not been successful.
Our Enforcement Program will be evaluating the potential long term impacts these decisions will have on North Carolina’s natural resources and communities. For example, the regulatory “reform” legislation that was passed this Session, in conjunction with the significant budget cuts and reduced staff at DENR, have the potential to slow down business permitting drastically, as well as limit the state’s ability to hold polluters accountable in communities across the state.
Keeping Our Waters Clean: Sedimentation Efforts
NCLCV has been working with Riverkeepers across the state to address the number one pollution source in our rivers -- sedimentation. The Muddy Water Watch Campaign worked to mobilize, educate, and develop policy recommendations to bring to the Legislature or other policy making bodies.
After a two-year in depth review of locally delegated sedimentation and erosion control programs across the state, we submitted a comprehensive report to the Sedimentation Control Commission and the Division of Land Resources, which is responsible for enforcing NC's Sedimentation Pollution Control Act. The report highlights the effectiveness of these programs, and makes recommendations to improve both local and state sedimentation and erosion control programs. The Division of Land Resources has already begun addressing many of the recommendations highlighted in our report.
Making the Case for Stronger Enforcement: See No Evil
North Carolina has long underfunded the compliance and enforcement divisions of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), often allowing violators to go unnoticed and unpunished. Cases from around the state provide examples of water and air pollution threatening our natural resources---and our public health---for months and years without clean up. From lack of funding and inadequate staff, to a failure of political support for strong environmental enforcement, our See No Evil report highlights some of the ongoing issues which hinder effective enforcement of our existing laws.
For more information, contact Robin Smith, our Enforcement Program Director: robin [at] nclcv [dot] org.